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Book Notes Chapter 19: The Card House Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 19: The Card House

Victor Welhun helped Jan and Oskar carry Koybella to the windowless room. On the way, they consoled themselves by thinking that the British and French would come to save them. Oskar knew better than to expect help. Jan, scared to death, was admitted to the room along with Oskar and Koybella, in which all of the wounded had been placed, on top of the unsent mail. After dressing Koybella's wounds, Jan couldn't think of what to do. He pulled out his skat cards and he, Oskar and Koybella began to play. Koybella could hardly keep himself upright; Jan and Oskar tied him to a mail basket with a pair of suspenders. Koybella was only conscious for the game itself; between hands he sagged in the suspenders. Oskar was troubled, for this was the first time he had let on that he was not a three-year-old in mind as he was in body; he let on that he could play skat. Jan began to confuse himself - he started calling Oskar Alfred or Matzerath and Koybella Agnes, then vice versa.

Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 7

Jan was about to play out a great hand of skat, but Koybella toppled over dead, spilling unsent mail from the basket all over the room. Jan could not understand - he shouted to "Alfred" to sit up. Oskar consoled Jan, calling him "Papa," telling him to let Koybella be.

Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 8

Victor Weluhn came into the room, saying he had lost his glasses. He said that Jan should make a run for it; the French were not coming. When Jan did not respond, he left, perhaps unable to see Jan without his glasses. Jan began to laugh - he threw his cards in the air, caught them, then set about using them to build a house of cards. The Germans had used flame-throwers to smoke out the remaining post office defenders. The post office's commander had surrendered. The Germans took thirty men prisoner - only three or four escaped. Victor Weluhn was one who escaped; he fled, had himself fitted for new glasses, had a few beers, then started running. His escape continues even now. The SS men found Jan and Oskar in the room of unsent mail. When they opened the door, the draft blew over Jan's house of cards. Outside, Oskar played the three-year-old again, throwing a tantrum; he was put in an official SS car. Jan, taken prisoner, had the queen of hearts from his deck of skat cards in his hand; he waved it at Oskar, his son, as the car pulled away.

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