While watching this argument, Henry, the protagonist, decides that he would rather go lay down and think rather then take part in the heated argument between the soldiers. Henry, a simple farm boy, is rather excited when he hears the rumor that they will be fighting soon. It had always been a dream of his to fight in a war, and become a hero. Now his dream was coming true. Henry begins to think about what life was like before he entered the army, and remembers some stories of war he has heard from old veterans.
His regiment gives him the glory he wanted, but under false circumstances. In the following days, another battle takes place. Henry fearing again what his regiment would think of him has to stay and fight. Henry is so into keeping the origin of his wound hidden that he stands behind a tree and fires shot after shot towards the army. He continues to fire after the rebels had retreated; another soldier had to stop him.
After Henry runs away from the first battle he feels embarrassed because he didn't have a wound. No one knew he ran so he still had his pride and after that his attitude changed and he began fighting with no fear. Tom Wilson is another young sodier in the 304th regiment who is called the loud soldier. When he is in the tent talking to Henry and conklin he talks about how he will not run and take on the whole army on by himself. When he is in the first battle he tries to run but is caught by an officer and made to go back and fight.
In the story, six close friends are persuaded to fight for their country by Kantorek, their schoolteacher, who believes enlisting is an honorable thing to do. After reaching the battlefront, one of Paul’s friends, Kemerich is injured. Kemerich has his leg amputated, but never recovers from the wounds and eventually dies. The outcome of these deaths makes them constantly fear for their lives and this calamity also cause the friends to realize that war is a physical terror. Consequently, when Paul goes home, he feels lost, and distressed around others.
Instead he finds his friend Jim Conkin from his regiment, who has been shot in the side. Henry tried to help Jim with another man called "Tattered Soldier." Jim could not hold on and died. After Jims death, Henry felt angry and left the Tattered Soldier alone to die in field, but it always came back to haunt Henry. After he leaves the Tattered Soldier, he sees the enemy charging and rushes back to the union regiment.
During a surprize raid they tried to attempt on the union army, the confederate army fired until they ran out of ammunition along with the other side. Bailey feeling a surge of victory rushed them, demanding them to surrender only to be shot in the chest. At this point Bailey gave up on his hope of life and winning that battle. He begins to think about his regrets but never fearing what is to become of him until he thinks of being in his enemy 's hands. That is when he cries out for help and begs for his life, but unfortunately is taken by the enemies.
This is when the boys are cramped into the trenches. Some of the soldiers were shell-shocked because of the constant bombardment. When one of the boys was wounded, he was taken to a hospital where there were many wounded soldiers. Some soldiers had to have parts of their bodies amputated in order to survive. When Kemmerich was in the hospital, Müller asked for his pair of boots.
A seventeen year old boy named Richie Perry is a black high school graduate from Harlem. He travels to Vietnam to fight in the United States Army. When Richie leaves for Vietnam, he thinks about all the illusions about the war. While scared of war, he hopes that his medical profile he received for a knee injury will be processed and prevent him from combat. When Richie arrives in Vietnam he befriends Harold Gates, also called Peewee throughout the story.
During the Civil War, a Union regiment rests along a riverbank, where they have been camped for weeks. The tall soldier Jim Conklin spreads a rumor that the army will soon march. Jim is a man who is very sure of himself and his own opinions. Henry Fleming, a recent recruit with the 304th regiment, worries about his courage, thinking that if he were ever to see a battle, he might run. Henry joined the army because he was drawn to the glory of military conflict, but since he joined, all the army has done is wait.
He started to become afraid that he might run from the fight. Finally when the regiment discovers a battle, Jim gives Henry a packet in a yellow envelope, telling Henry that this will be his first and last battle. The regiment managed to hold off the rebels for the first charge, but then the rebels came back with the reinforcements driving back the regiment. One man attempted to flee, then another, and the situation soon began to snow ball. Henry became scared and confused when he saw his forces losing horribly.