The Tin Drum Chapter 29: The Dusters
Oskar returned to the church of the Sacred Heart several times, trying to get the baby Jesus to repeat his drumming performance. Jesus never obliged. Cold and shivering in the church night after night, Oskar began to cough, a habit that remains with Oskar to this day when he enters a church. Oskar began to go to church because nothing kept him at home - every time he saw his son Kurt, the boy would attack him.
Matzerath took to hugging Oskar often, and even kissed him once, as he struggled against the doctors, who wanted to put Oskar in an institution. Oskar took to singing glass apart often, as it gave him proof of his existence. Each time he left the church of the Sacred Heart, he chose some window to break with his voice, and he always took a different way home. One day he arrived at church late. The door was locked, so Oskar took a long way home, in order to vent his rage. He sang out street lamps and came upon a chocolate factory. About to sing out its windows, Oskar noticed a group of boys that had been following him. It was clear that they were converging on Oskar. He squeezed through the factory fence, but four boys were waiting for him. There were twenty in all who converged, all between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. They addressed each other in code: Ripper, Putty, Firestealer, Mister, Soup Chicken, Lionheart, Bluebeard, Totila, Teja, Belisarius, Narses, and Störtebaker. Störtebaker, the leader, questioned Oskar and threatened to give him a "dusting." Firestealer asked Oskar what his name was. Oskar replied "My name is Jesus." Firestealer gave Oskar a "dusting" - he dug his knuckles into Oskar's arm above the elbow, and gouged until Oskar felt pain. They asked his name again; Oskar maintained that he was Jesus. Just then the air-raid sirens went off; several boys had to leave to help man the artillery. Störtebaker allowed that Oskar was Jesus, but wanted to know how he could break glass with his voice. Oskar resolved to take these children under his wing, to lead them as Jesus had. To bring them in, he gave an example of his singing skills - he broke the windows of the chocolate factory. The boys were enthralled; they danced and shouted. Störtebaker sighed, then admitted Oskar to the gang. Oskar said that "Jesus" would lead them, and that they were to follow.
They were the Dusters, a group of boys that had become famous in Danzig for raiding the offices of the Hitler Youth, stealing medals from soldiers and ammunition from stockpiles. Their grand ambition was to raid the city's rationing office.