Monday, July 16, 2007

Tin Drum


"Barbaric, Mystical, Bored."

How does Grass use the concept of history?

15 comments:

scandurro said...

1. Why does Oskar profess hatred for and run away from the miraculous drum-playing Jesus? I though he swore he'd believe if Jesus drummed.

2. What's Grass saying about the concept of childhood in this novel?

3. Are all of these supernatural occurences really happening? What's your explanation?

dean said...

I think that most of the occurrences do happen. the duster raids with his long range screeching were rather out there. But I think that his mental state does not make him create memories, but he might think of all his memories are much grander than they were.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

Going to the idea of childhood in the novel: I think that Grass is examining how war and disaster crush any and/or all childhood expirience. Grass, being a teenager during the war, must have expirienced some horrific things and done somethings that were worse. Innosence was replaced with reality and expirience.

dean said...

Well war does indeed crush childhood, but I do not believe that Grass is talking about that in his novel. Oskar seems to flourish in the War Time era. He observes the people he knows during the war and he comprehends why they are acting the way they do. He also goes with the theater troupe and learns a lot; which could not have happened without the war.

michelle taylor said...

(To answer question 1) Oskar's not a very good little boy, is he? Jesus (and Christianity) is traditionally a religion of responsibility and kindness (e.g. being your brother's keeper, building treasures in heaven, etc.). He's a kid, so he'll egg Jesus on, but I don't think he ever really wanted Jesus to respond. And I guess he's naturally curious and inquisitive. However, to accept Jesus is, if one is going to be honest with one's self, to accept all that he demands of his followers. Oskar is selfish; he doesn't want to think of anyone but himself. However, one must note that, although Oskar doesn't accept or follow Jesus, he does acknowledge him as divine. Recall that several times Oskar refers to the Catholic church as the "only-saving church;" he seems (or pretends to be, or says he is) pleased when Maria shifts from being a Protestant to being a Catholic.

Also, Oskar reiterates that he is evil, that Satan had him before he was baptized, that Satan is kind of within him. Perhaps religion is against his nature-- or perhaps it's just part of his awareness of his selfishness. I think that's a question of which came first-- does his opposition to religion stem from a predestination for wickedness, or did he develop into a wicked child, and then reject religion?

michelle taylor said...

I'm sorry. I write too much. I'll try to be more concise next time.

ndepass said...

3. One supernatural event in Tim Drum that i found particularly interesting was how oskar would drum back all of his memories. Even though it is mostly impossible, i think it displays some true aspects. Because since the drum is such a big part of his life, he ties all of the important events of his youth into his drumming, and that is his way of recalling those memories. For most people there is one thing or one occurenece that triggers their memories, and he uses his drum to do that. So i think it is basically an exaggeration of that event.

Dean Elazab said...

3. I think that the glass shattering did not happen. That might be a manifestation in his mind, but he believes he can. The glass shattering voice may have been plausible if he broke a wine glass up close, but not carve glass and shatter it long range, or even cut a hole so people could be tempted to steal.

Manal said...

I don't think Oskar hates Jesus. At that time, when he saw the three different types of statues portraying Jesus, he found one of the statues to look somewhat like him. This similarity, I think, between him and the statue led him to question Jesus's credibility and power.Since it was a statue of the divine, he wanted Jesus to play the drum. But the statue couldn't. This led Oskar to believe he is, in a way, better/superior than the statue or Jesus. Rather, he was disapointed that he didn't get his miracle, but I don't think it was hate.

Stephen Gieger said...

I believe that Oskar is an obviously disturbed person who cannot properly deal with the events of the outside world. The fact that Oskar remarks upon actual historical events suggests that he must have some sanity, however, he obviously embellishes these experiences with giving himself supernatural behaviors that he does not actually perform.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

i completely agree with stephen. the one event that drives home the concept that Oskar is majorly mentally ill is the occurrence when jesus comes to life and drums.
this demonstrates that Oskar has lost the handle on reality

Mr. Plainview said...

3. No, these supernatural events are obviously not really happening. Again, Oskar is perfectly sane. By giving himself these supernatural powers he cures some sense of inadequacy. He may be immature, but that does not mean he is insane. Why am I the only one that understands poor little Oskar? Nyuk.

puddlewonderful said...

Years from now, Brandon is going to come out with his "autobiography," in which he makes a similar series of preposterous claims to cure his (albeit unnecessary) sense of inadequacy. This is why he is the only one who "gets" Oskar. :P

Margaret said...

So, first off, I'm sorry I'm commenting on all of these topics so incredibly late. Better late than never though, right?

1. I think Oskar relates with Jesus. He sees himself as on the same plane, Jesus's equal, until he realizes that Jesus will not drum. So, then he believes himself to be better than Jesus. He does also call himself the devil a few times. I think he might resent Jesus because he is pure and beautiful. Oskar is tainted and deformed. By referring to himself as the devil, he still retains a sense of power. He does not feel so inadequate in comparison to Jesus.

2. I think Grass is saying that because of the war, Oskar was not able to have a proper childhood. This may be one of many reasons for Oskar's instability. Like other people have said, Oskar was not able to cope with reality, so he recedes into himself and creates these superpowers. Growing up in wartime Poland must have been traumatizing, and Oskar is not the only one to have been affected. Most of the characters are quite unstable in the novel, and this reflects the confusion and chaos of the times.

3. As I was reading, I'll have to admit I think I pick and chose what to believe, but I don't think that's really consistent with proper logic. But does it really have to be? The novel itself is pretty crazy. So, I think anyone should be able to interpret it as they wish. It'll mean different things for different people, and that's how it should be with everything... in my ideal world, anyway. It'd be nice if all opinions could be accepted as personal truths, but that concept doesn't really work practically (i.e. set moral codes in a society). Anyway, I think I'm still somewhat undecided. I could say I think it's all imagined, or it's all true, or some of the more extreme things aren't real but most of it is. I'd personally like to believe it's all true, just because this is a novel. It's more entertaining to me if I believe this is a different world in which supernatural things like these happen. I think I switch stances on this though. If I'm feeling more cynical and less romantic, I'll believe Oskar is making it all up. It's still meaningful to Oskar, whether his experiences were real or not. So, to Oskar, it doesn't matter.

I'm sorry that was so long and that this post is so late.

Margaret said...

I was thinking last night that maybe Oskar is purposely writing an ambiguous story. Throughout the novel, he struggles to find himself and mend his split selves. Poland/Germany, Jan/Matzerath, Jesus/Satan. He wants us to form our own opinion, and perhaps, stick to it in a way he could not. It's up for interpretation, and we don't have to conform to any view that is not our own. It's art, how could an opinion be right or wrong? We could even be undecided if that was our choice. It's the duty of the artist to keep the view questioning.