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Chapter 38: The Hedgehog Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 38: The Hedgehog

Oskar and Ulla went house hunting for Oskar - the Academy gave him a recommendation and the addresses of students not planning on returning for the next semester. Oskar went back to Korneff, who was exactly the same, but had weathered the currency reform; not only was he selling tombstones, he was refinishing stone edifices on buildings with war damage, finding newfound prosperity. He hired Oskar back on a half-time basis. In three hours' work, he earned a third of his monthly rent.

The first apartment Oskar looked at was rented out by and undertaker named Zeidler. When he opened the door, his face was covered in shaving cream. Oskar took a look at the room and didn't like it; it was a converted bathroom with blue tile walls. Oskar asked if the bathtub could be removed, Zeidler said no, and Oskar said he would accept the room. Oskar asked about tenants; Zeidler said the room next door was occupied by a nurse,. which intrigued Oskar. Before he left, Oskar asked to be shown the toilet.

Oskar moved in that afternoon. Mrs. Zeidler was there, seated in a gray suit. There were carpets everywhere in the flat, on the walls and superimposed on the floor. When Mrs. Zeidler whispered to him, Zeidler flew into an instant rage and hollered at her. He ran to the china case, picked up eight liquor glasses, and threw them at the cast iron stove, shattering glass all over the room. Then he got a dustpan and brush, and swept the whole mess up. Then Oskar took his belongings, including the Drum Raskolnikov gave him, to his room.

From that day on, Oskar was infatuated with the unseen nurse across the hall. He says his nurse infatuation is a kind of disease, brought on by having been saved and brought to life every few years by legions of nurses. This time it was Sister Dorothea who held his attention. He would hear her footsteps, but never see her and become restless. Her silences were even more disconcerting. Oskar took to examining the mail each morning and looking at the return addresses of the letters to Sister Dorothea. Oskar learned she had a good friend named Beata; Oskar composed several letters to her, aimed at winning over Dorothea, but never sent them. He became jealous when letters from a Dr. Erich Werner began to arrive, addressed to Dorothea. Oskar resolved in that moment to become a doctor himself - simply because he could expose Dr. Werner as a quack and win over the unseen Sister Dorothea.

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