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Chapter 25: 165 lbs. Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 25: 165 lbs.

Just as the mud had set in on the front lines of the war, Oskar says he, too, bogged down in the mud of Lina Greff. Maria had taught Oskar to appreciate the delicate side of femininity; Lina taught Oskar femininity on a grand scale - she made a man of him. Lina was permanently bed-ridden and slightly ailing, and could not get away from Oskar. She simply laid herself out for him to experiment with.

Having lost the visits from his former boy scouts, Greff the greengrocer spent his time tinkering with his homemade contraptions. The boys were fighting and some had died in the war.

When he visited the bedridden Lina, he left his drum and climbed in wearing all of his clothes. Two hours later, he would climb out again, fully clothed. Then, with all of Lina's unpleasant scents clinging to him, he would go to visit Greff. After Oskar had been with his wife several times, Greff started a ritual: before Oskar was finished with Lina, Greff would come in with a basin full of warm water, soap, and a towel. Oskar would wash and then go to see Greff: even second hand, Greff could not stomach his wife's smells. Oskar and Greff, however, never became friends.

In September, 1942, Greff invented a drumming machine, set in motion by unbalancing the scales with potatoes. Oskar liked the machine and asked Greff to demonstrate it often; Oskar realized, however, that Greff had not built it for Oskar, but for himself. "Its finale was his finale," Oskar says.

One morning Oskar went into the street and Greff's store was not open, which never happened. He drummed up Lina Greff's attention; she was immediately worried. She went into the store, then down to the cellar. She began to scream. She desperately called the police, then came back to the window and screamed again. The whole neighborhood came outside, but Lina didn't let anyone into her window. Lina called to Oskar; someone lifted him up and she held him to her bosom and she stopped screaming and instead began to whimper. Oskar was embarrassed; Maria was watching him in Lina's arms from the doorway of Alfred's shop. Oskar slipped down, out of Lina's grasp, and walked into the shop. He walked over and peered into the open cellar hatchway; he saw Greff's hiking shoes hanging in mid-air. He walked down the stairs and saw that Greff had hanged himself from a hugely elaborate counterweighted system of beams and pulleys. He was counterweighted with potatoes; on the bag, a tag read "165 lbs. (less three oz.)" - Greff had weighed himself to the ounce. He was in a boy scout uniform, and on the last few steps to the basement, there were four framed pictures: Balden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts), St. George, the head of Michaelangelo's David, and his favorite boy, Horst Donath, killed on the front lines. Ripped into pieces on the stairs was a court summons asking Greff to appear on a morals charge.

When the paramedics came, they cut Greff down and the counterweight fell, causing a large version of his drum machine, suspended above the scaffolding - it was Greff's grand finale.

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