Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oskar The Unreliable

The story of Oskar is told from the view of a mentally unstable and physically undeveloped patient in a mental institution with a more than troubled childhood. If I were to hear that this were the situation for any other story I would be slightly apprehensive to believe anything that they would say. This doubt is magnified by the unrealistic nature of Oskar's stories. Sure it is magical realism and we understand Oskar to be unreliable but I don't think he was as in control of his life and mental situation as he describes. A perfect example is how he says that he was fully developed mentally at birth and since then decided not to grow, this is scientifically impossible. There are many instances in the book where Oskar claims to have chosen to do something, but naming them all would take up the entire blog page, and all of us here know most of them already. With all the evidence of Oskar's reliability, or the lack thereof, (I am actually unsure if I am using that phrase correctly but it is fun to say) I have come to the conclusion that the life described by Oskar is actually the way he wanted his life to play out, a fantasy, but not reality. Maybe he even really believes these stories to be the truth, but he doesn't have me fooled.


Ian J said...

I agree with Mitchell. Oskar is indeed an unreliable narrator. An example of this is when Lina Greff is raped by the Russian "liberators". I find it interesting that Oskar would portray such a heinous act in such a nonchalant way. Why would he do this? What problem does he have that would allow him to focus on a line of ants while such a terrible thing is happening? Was it because maybe he was terrified by the rape and tried to focus on something else, although one could certainly not deduce this from the way he portrays it...?

wkuehne said...

While much of what Oskar says, and does may be unreliable, his recantations of historical happenings seem to be accurate and reliable. Perhaps Grass purposely uses this to portray the confusion that German people felt, while being surrounded by World WAr II's destruction.

Ben Bonner said...

I wonder if Grass is trying to use Oskar's growth and development or lack therof as a metaphor for how most people mature. Oskar is born with his mind fully functioning, the implication being that he has already planned the course his life will follow i.e. he will not grow and his going to be a drummer. I think Grass may be attacking the preconceived notions people form and cling to without any rational support. I think this ties into the theme we discussed about in class of Grass portraying the typical 20th century person as apathetic and easily misguided.