Friday, August 27, 2010

Oskar's Accountability

I think that Oskar's perspective of reality is completely unreliable. His mental instability, in the context of an unstable society and cultural ambiguity, "stunts" his growth. However, not only does Oskar demonstrate an inability to be reliable or responsible for his actions, but society as a whole shows their psychological disconnection from the atrocities happening in Poland and Germany during the war. I also don't think that Oskar is truly culpable because his insanity overrides mental growth. I know that many of you guys would disagree, though. What do you think? Is Oskar accountable for what happened?

7 comments:

C-Sted said...

The problem in determining Oskar's guilt and responsibility lies in our inability whether we should trust him or not. If we decide that he is able to be trusted as a narrator, then I believe we would have to conclude that he is responsible for many of the unjust occurrences in the novel. However, if we decide that Oskar is not sane and able to be believed, than I assume he is free from culpability. Of course, the very uncertainty of the matter ends up landing Oskar in a mental asylum, where he is free from personal accountability anyway.

Julia Dean said...

I agree with you Collin in that we can't decide whether he's responsible for the tragic events that occur until we decide whether to trust him or not. I, like Chloe, think that Oskar is incredibly unreliable and I cannot trust him completely. Even though he does not seem remorseful to the reader, I believe he subconciously feels accountable for the atrocities committed around him. His nurse fettish and constant desire to find someone in the neighborhood to confide in convince me that he misses his mother and feels partially responsible for her death.

Samantha said...

I also agree with all of you. If we choose to believe that Oskar is sane and mentally stable, then he is definitely guilty of blatantly murdering Jan and Matzerath. However, since he is such an unreliable and completely irrational narrator, it is probably more accurate to say that he is incapable of being culpable. Now that I'm thinking about it this way, the entire novel is so irrational that it may even completely be a paranoid dream or nightmare.

Steven said...

I think G√ľnther Grass specifically writes The Tin Drum from an unreliable perspective to show the lack of personal accountability in the novel. Though Oskar claims at the end of the novel that he did not commit murder and only possesses the finger out of fascination, the reader must consider that this information is only presented by him, an insane asylum patient. But what is more important is to consider the lack of importance of actually knowing whether or not Oskar committed the murder. What is more important, and in my mind Grass's point altogether, is that Oskar is not able to take responsibility for the murder. Grass is able to illustrate Oskar's unreliability and in effect speak upon the unreliaibility of the people living around him during the mid-twentieth century.

chrissy said...

Based on the information Oskar has given us that would lead us to not trust him (such as being in a mental hospital), we should not trust him. However, he is the only source of information so in order to fully understand the story he gives, we must trust him. His accountability is another issue. He is not fully responsible for the deaths he believes he caused. He acted out frequently in a way that was displeasing to society and this caused some shame on his mother, father, and presumptive father. This humiliation may have caused feelings of discomfort in his mother, but ultimately, it was her choice to slowly kill herself. Oskar's selfishness led Jan back to the Post Office, but Jan could have told Oskar no. Matzerath's death can seem to be more of Oskar's fault because he gave him the pin to swallow. On the other hand, Matzerath would most likely have been killed by the Polish people due to his association with the Nazi Party.

Katherine said...

I believe that by Oskar allowing the reader to know his current state of insanity, he wants us to question his reliability. By Oskar doing this, it gives us the opporutnity to interpret the story in different ways. We must decide for ourselves if we can trust Oskar or not, and as a result of our decisions we can then determine if he is culpable or not.

Olivia Celata said...

As we learned in class today, individuals are undeniably effected by society. For example, Germany had difficulty facing the facts and harsh realities after WWII. If society as a whole has an unreliable perspective on reality, then Oskar will also. Therefore, I believe that Oskar could never be entirely accountable for what happened, even if he was mentally stable, because society would still have had an influence over him.