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Chapter 23: Special Communiqués Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 23: Special Communiqués

In the mental institution, Oskar tried an experiment. He sent his keeper Bruno out to find him fizz powder, but the stores no longer sold it. In the end, the lab technician at the hospital synthesized some for Oskar out of sympathy. It was visiting day: both Klepp and Vittlar came to visit Oskar. Stalin had died that day, and Klepp, the purveyor of Communist propaganda, was in mourning. When Klepp left, Oskar whispered to Vittlar if he knew about fizz powder. Vittlar became incredulous, said he was an angel that could not be tempted, and left.

Maria came to visit Oskar. They talked of her son Kurt, then had Bruno bring in the makeshift fizz powder. He poured it in her left hand and spat into it. She became indignant and angry, then went to the sink and washed her hand off. Oskar pleaded with her to remember, but she did not. She was taken with fear, tried to change the topic, then left weeping. Oskar says he could never forget that powder, for it had made him a father - he had made Maria pregnant that night with the raspberry fizz powder in her navel, as she slept. He is sure of this because it was not until ten days later that he had found Alfred on top of Maria on the sofa.

Oskar found them as he came downstairs from meditating in the attic. They were twisted into a grotesque position and Oskar disregarded Maria's screams to leave and leaped onto the small of Alfred's back. He placed his drum there and beat it furiously, and Alfred and Maria fell apart. Oskar maintains bitterly that he is Kurt's father, and that he inherited from Jan Bronski, his true father, the trait of getting there ahead of Alfred Matzerath.

Oskar caused a fight between Maria and Alfred, for since he was on Alfred's back, Alfred could not shake Oskar off until it was too late; he thought he had gotten Maria pregnant. Alfred stormed out to go play skat, and Oskar was left alone with Maria. She turned on the radio and listened to the report from the front lines of the war, then sat at the table and began to weep. In order to console her, Oskar went into the adjacent store, got some fizz powder, crawled under the table, dumped it into Maria's dangling hand, and mixed it with her saliva. Maria kicked him soundly in the chest and he went sprawling. They both stood up; Maria began to call Oskar names. She hit him in the back of the head and stuffed a towel in his mouth, which he bit hard. Then she laughed and forgot her anger, and went to stroke Oskar's hair. When she came close, Oskar landed an uppercut between her legs, where Alfred had been, then sank his teeth into the same spot. Oskar let go and began to cry with hate and love, while Maria cried in pain.

Alfred married Maria because she was pregnant. If Oskar had rightfully gotten to name Kurt, he says he would have named his son after the boy's great-grandfather, Vincent Bronski.

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