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Tin Drum concentrates on the prime character of the book named Oskar. This paper explains the psyche behind Oskar's thinking and why he had become the sort of person he was. This paper primarily emphasizes on the main theme of the book, i.e. guilt and explains whether this feeling turned Oskar into a better person or just caused an evasion in his personality.
The Tin Drum
The Tin Drum written by Gunter Grass is one of the most outstanding novels that represents the cruelties inflicted by the German army on others. The Tin Drum written in 1959 won the Nobel Prize in literature. The Tin Drum is Grass's first novel that drove him from indistinctness to an exciting neoteric role as a spokesperson for the entire generation of leftist German coming to provisos with the repercussion of nazism. The prime character in the story is Oskar Matzerath, who according to the British audience is synonymous with Gunter Grass. Oskar, as a result of hard German regime and cruelties repudiates to grow up in protest of the Germans. He only communicated by beating his drums and uttering ear shattered screams. The basic psyche behind Oskar's act was to represent people who were battling to reason with the insufferable past. The author of the novel towards the end of the story tells his readers that Oskar's decision to grow up after the war was a way of starting afresh. The Tin Drum is a concoction of reverie, realism, morbid and guilt.
The novel starts by introducing to the audience a vague character named Oskar who is instituted in a mental asylum. Though every once a week people visit him, he finds no joy in that. His only friend is his watcher and caretaker named Bruno Munsterberg. His decision to stop growing up was adamant. "For many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire" (Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum). Throughout the novel the audience feels that Oskar liked to give a rational interpretation of the actual events in his life. He gave these incidents his own spice so that he could become the hero of his own play. He is even told by his watcher to stop dreaming. In some points in the novel, Oskar while relating stories to his audience realizes that he has exaggerated the truth a little too much and then backtracks to tell what the actual truth was. "An example of this backtracking happened after the raid on the Polish post office -- Oskar admits in the next chapter that the skat game didn't quite involve the same card hands that he had mentioned, and as an aside, he happened to point out Jan on his way out of the office!" (The Tin Drum By Gunter Grass).
Throughout the novel the audience apprehends Oskar's to be very authentic in their nature. "Gunter Grass uses a strange mix of narrative styles in this book -- switching back and forth from first to third person within the same paragraph or sentence, throwing in sections written by other characters, and even using a little scripted play in the middle of the book" (The Tin Drum By Gunter Grass).
By the writing style adopted by Grass, it is certain that Oskar's disposition and evolvement of his mind reflected that of Germany through the Second World War. "Since I believe only what can be drawn, I drove from Gottingen to the Upper Harz Mountains, holed up in a nearly empty hotel for summer hikers or winter skiers and drew - with Siberian Charcoal, a wood product - what had become of the grief on the slopes and crests" (Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum).
Despite the fact that Oskar was living an abnormal life due to his own choice, he loved the woman who had given him a voice through his drum, i.e. his mother. Oskar's mother had accepted her son's stunted growth and all the traits of his personality. Oskar was greatly confused about who is father was. Even though his mother had married a German party member named Matzerath, Oskar guess was that his great uncle Jan was his presumable father. Jan was an employee at the Polish Post office that was situated across the German Border. One night he avoids the German attack by playing cards with Oskar and an ill Polish man. As soon as the guards enter the room, Oskar starts pretending to be a helpless childish victim, thus making Jan to be the evil culprit. In this episode Jan is eventually caught and Oskar manages to escape with his drums. Oskar later feels guilty of escaping while his uncle is caught. He can not explicate the question running through his mind, "What had my drum in common with the blood of Poland?" (Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum).
Later in the Novel, Oskar mother dies and he feels a feeling of guilt flood him. Even though he mentions his feeling of guilt in a mere casual manner he fears that, "because of Oskar, she didn't want to live any more" (Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum). After his mother's death, Matzerath marries a girl who Oskar was really fond off. He detests this act of Matzerath so much that he starts hating him. Later in the novel he and the audience finds out that Matzerath was killed while invading the Russian soldiers. The audience again feels Oskar's guilt who starts to blame himself for Matzerath's act. Of all his relatives only Oskar's grandmother named Anna is left. She often allowed her three-foot tall grandson to take "refuge again beneath her four skirts" (Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum).
Oskar never took sides in the war. It is only once when he breaks up the German rally by concealing himself under the outside platform and drumming a rhythm different from the military band. This causes the crowd to ignore the propaganda and dance to the new rhythm. In another occasion, just before the Normandy invasion, Oskar visits the pillboxes on the Atlantic shore of France, where a group of nuns are mistaken as enemies. In the later half of the book, Oskar, his half brother and stepmother are taken into a freight car filled with refugees hoping to get out of West Germany. A German official whose job was to spray the refugees with lice invades Oskar's home. Each time the train makes its stop, the train passengers are looted from money and clothes.
Towards the end of the novel Oskar calls himself Jesus in order to relive his guilt. This is where the audience realizes the amount of guilt Oskar felt for the people in his life. His mother's death had the greatest impact on Oskar's life. It is only after his mother's death that he decides to grow up a little. It was his mother's suicidal death that causes Oskar to cast himself as a devil child. Even though he was aware of the fact that he had nothing to do with his mother suicide, he grows more and more guilty each day until he pronounces her death to be entirely his blunder. Oskar is even sad about the fact that no one will now bring him new drums. The biggest conflict in Oskar's life was the affair between his mother and Jan. After her death Oskar feels that she and Jan had become something like Romeo and Juliet; she died for him, held their love on a pedestal and sacrificed her life. On his mother's funeral he says,
I couldn't help feeling that her head would bob up again any minute and that she would have to vomit some more, that there was something more inside her that wanted to come out: not only that fetus aged three months who like me didn't know which father he had to thank for his existence; no, I thought, it's not just he who wants to come out and, like Oskar, demand a drum, no, there's more fish, not sardines, and no flounder, no, it's a little chunk of eel, a few whitish-green threads of eel flesh, eel from the battle of Skagerrak, eel from the Naufahrwasser breakwater, Good Friday eel, eel from that horse's head, possibly eel from her father Joseph Koljaiczek who ended under the raft, a prey to the eels, eel of thine eel, for eel thou art, to eel returnest
(Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum).
Oskar grows even guiltier after Matzerath's death. As a result of his hatred for Matzerath, Oskar once again blames himself for killing him. He feels that due to his grave hatred for Matzerath, he died. Hence, while reading the novel the audience does feel that Oskar was responsible for a lot of bad deeds. It is however confusing to decide whether Matzerath's death of a well planned murder or just a mere accident.
After the death of his mother Oskar was more like a lost wanderer. He had lost his will, his enthusiasm for his…[continue]
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