Literature Study GuidesThe Tin DrumBook 2 Chapters 29 30 Summary

The Tin Drum | Study Guide

Günther Grass

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The Tin Drum | Book 2, Chapters 29–30 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 29: The Dusters

Although Oskar visits the Church of the Sacred Heart regularly, he is never able to repeat the experience that nearly led him to acknowledge his belief. Jesus did not drum; neither did he speak to Oskar. Oskar's belief lies in himself: in his drum and his voice. "As long as I sangshattered glass, I existed," he explains.

After shattering the windows in a tram one night near the end of August—he is angry because the church was closed—Oskar encounters a street gang called the Dusters. They threaten to "dust" him, or beat him up. But he convinces them, by shattering factory windows, that he is Jesus. As he does this, he thinks about the fact that the American troops have reached Paris and a bombing raid is going on overhead.

Their leader, Störtebeker, tells Oskar he is in the gang, calling him Jesus. Their main goal is to attack "everything." They attack Hitler Youth and other groups. They don't really care who they hurt, which is acceptable to Oskar for the moment.

Chapter 30: The Christmas Play

Oskar's singshattering carries out the destructive plans of Störtebeker. He doesn't even have to leave Mother Truczinski's house to do his work. Oskar denies that the Dusters' activities are governed by Polish partisans. However, the Dusters, who claim political neutrality, harass the Hitler Youth and other political groups.

During Advent, the church season before Christmas, he decides they need to perform a nativity play. They head for the Church of the Sacred Heart, where Oskar plans to steal the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mother for their play. The gang members begin sawing off the plaster statues, but need a break. Oskar, who sits on Mary's lap, decides to hold a Black Mass. They are caught and arrested, including Oskar, who attempts to play a three-year old taken in by the older gang members. Luzie, the sister of two of their new recruits—whom Oskar is both attracted to and fears because she sees right through him—rats on them, and stands there eating sausage sandwiches while the priest grabs Oskar and the police arrest everyone.

This time his ruse fails. He explains that the trial, which he calls "the second trial of Jesus," will end in his acquittal "and hence that of Jesus."

Analysis

Oskar is taking part in the Resistance, even as his gang denies political motives. He finally gets to be the center of attention he has wanted to be since the concert where he put out the lights with his singshattering. This time, he's got disciples who follow him and call him Jesus.

The one hitch in this group is Luzie Rennwand, whose brothers are new recruits to the Dusters. The Dusters bribe her with sausage sandwiches, but she tells on them anyway when they begin to saw apart the statues at the front of the church. Luzie is the spark for the guilty German conscience and the accusing stare of the rest of the world. Luzie's eyes in her triangular face haunt Oskar for the rest of his life. In his guilt, he believes they can see through him. They see that he is a fraud, that he is not powerful even though he causes harm everywhere he goes, and that he has been the cause of a string of deaths and arrests. He never sees Luzie again, apart from the trial in the next chapter, but he sees her face everywhere. She is the spirit behind the Black Cook, a female witch he is afraid of.

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