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Chapter 20: He Lies in Saspe Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 20: He Lies in Saspe

Oskar says he has misled the reader in the last chapter - the events were not so grand or blameless as he made them out to be. As soon as the guards came into the room, Oskar had begun making himself out to be the childish victim, and making Jan out to be the evil culprit who used Oskar as a shield for bullets. Jan didn't notice, and this fact comforts Oskar, for it relieves him of responsibility. Jan was lost in his world of cards.

Oskar says he has two great burdens of guilt in his life: it was he who sent both Agnes and Jan to their graves. While Oskar was placed in the hospital with a fever and given back to Alfred, the thirty prisoners were taken to the run-down cemetery in Saspe and executed. Oskar learned this from Leo Schugger, who knew about all the burials in Danzig, even unannounced ones.

In the hospital, the high bars on the beds in the children's ward kept Oskar happily separated from his family and their friends. Vincent and Anna wanted Oskar to confess the truth to the Germans: that he had convinced Jan to return to the post office, which he did not want to defend. Oskar did no such thing, but watched Poland fall to the Germans in eighteen days. Oskar left the hospital and was given back his drums. Once out, he took a walk and chanced upon Leo Schugger - Oskar was afraid of him. After spending most of the day together, Leo pushed Oskar into a doorway, pulled something out of his pocket, and handed it to Oskar. In his hand was an empty cartridge case. Leo closed his hand and Oskar followed him silently. Leo played the Pied Piper, playing the casing, leading Oskar on. He led Oskar into Saspe cemetery, measured out paces in Latin, marked the spot with a piece of wood, then deposited the casing, which was tapered at the foot end, next to it. A fleet of military planes flew overhead, preparing to land. Suddenly Leo darted away, leaving Oskar alone, and dropped something as he left which Oskar thought he should pick up. It was a skat card - the seven of spades. A few days later, Anna was able to come back to the farmer's market in Danzig. Oskar approached her, handed her the skat card and cartridge case, and whispered "He's lying in Saspe," and ran off.

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