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Chapter 32: Should I or Shouldn't I? Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 32: Should I or Shouldn't I?

Refugees from Poland began to arrive in Danzig. To Oskar's family, a man named Mr. Fajngold arrived, whose wife Luba and children Lev, Jakub, Berek, Leon, Mendel, and Sonya had been killed. Fajngold remained convinced, however, that his wife and family were alive - he showed the imaginary family around the store, and introduced them around to everyone. He and his imaginary family were shown Matzerath's corpse - Fajngold helped to carry Matzerath upstairs; Maria and the imaginary Luba dressed the body. Lina Greff was of no help - she was busy in her house with a whole group of Russians. Fajngold convinced Old Man Heilandt to make another coffin for Matzerath. He used the door between the kitchen and the living room from Mother Truczinski's flat, but this time didn't bother to make the coffin tapered at the foot end. Heilandt wouldn't cart the coffin as far as the city cemetery; they went to Saspe instead.

On the way, looting soldiers helped to push the coffin along. One gave Maria a cage with a lovebird in it; Kurt tried to pull out its feathers. A guard let the group pass through to the cemetery, but assigned two boys of sixteen to guard the party with their machine guns. Oskar found meaning in the fact that Jan Bronski and Matzerath were to be buried in the same place. Kurt was throwing rocks at the lovebird. Maria started to cry as she dug Matzerath's grave. Oskar began a long debate with himself, asking "Should I or Shouldn't I?" to himself over and over again. He reasoned: he was now an orphan - his parents and presumptive parents were dead. He settled on "I should" as Kurt hit the bird with a stone. Oskar owned up to the fact that he had killed Matzerath deliberately; he had opened the pin in his hand before giving it to Matzerath. Standing over the grave, Oskar resolved: "It must be," then threw his drum into the grave, on top of the coffin. The sand struck the drum; suddenly, Oskar began to grow, the fist sign being a violent nosebleed. He could not walk, for his joints were already inflamed. Outside the cemetery, Leo Schugger sat on a tank and offered his condolences. Suddenly, Leo began to dance when he saw Oskar:

"'The Lord, the lord,' he cried, shaking the lovebird in its cage. 'See the Lord! He's growing, he's growing!'

Then he was tossed into the air with the cage, and he ran, flew, danced, staggered, and fled with the screeching bird, himself a bird. Taking flight at last, he fluttered across the fields in the direction of the sewage land and was heard shouting through the voices of the tommy guns: 'He's growing, he's growing!' He was still screaming when the two young Russians reloaded. 'He's growing!' And even when the tommy guns rang out again, even after Oskar had fallen down a stepless staircase into an expanding, all-engulfing faint, I could hear the bird, the voice, the raven. I could hear Leo proclaiming to all the world: 'He's growing, he's growing, he's growing...'" Chapter 32, pg. 407

Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 12
Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 13

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