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Chapter 40: Klepp Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 40: Klepp

In the hallway, Oskar was satisfied that there was no sign of Dr. Werner in Sister Dorothea's room. He heard a cough from the end of the hall that Oskar says now was calculated to get his attention - Oskar ignored it. A few days later, in the morning before going to the Academy to be painted with Ulla as a Greek god, he went through the mail and found a letter from Dr. Werner to Sister Dorothea. He went to the kitchen and boiled water, then took the letter and steamed the envelope open so as not to damage it. The letter was not overtly tender, but through the coldness Oskar sensed that it was a love letter. Oskar resealed the letter and began to laugh as he replaced it under Dorothea's door. Then, at the end of the hall, Oskar heard a voice plaintively ask him to bring some water. This was Klepp's apartment - he was not sick, he simply used Oskar as an excuse to get water. Klepp's apartment smelled of a corpse that doesn't stop smoking cigarettes, sucking peppermints, and eating garlic - Oskar says Klepp smells this way even now. In the dirty room were several packages of spaghetti, olive oil, tomato paste, salt, and a case of lukewarm beer. Klepp urinated in the beer bottles lying down, for he seldom bothered to move. Klepp always used the same water to cook his spaghetti, which became increasingly viscous, and stayed in bed up to four days at a time.

Oskar and Klepp talked for a long while. Klepp said he stayed in bed so as to ascertain whether his heath was good, middling, or poor. In a few weeks, he said, he hoped to learn that it was middling. Klepp offered Oskar to share in a plate of spaghetti with him. They cooked it in the water Oskar had brought, but used Klepp's pasty cooking pot. When it was done, Klepp put Oskar's food on a greasy plate he had found under his bed; he wiped it off with a newspaper. The fork and spoon stuck to Oskar's fingers. Klepp squeezed tomato paste and poured oil on the spaghetti, and bid Oskar eat. Oskar says that once he summoned the courage to eat, he rather liked the meal.

On Klepp's wall was a picture of Queen Elizabeth of England. Klepp claimed to be a supporter of the British royal family. Oskar challenged him on this; Klepp asked for an explanation. In response, Oskar rushed to his room and got the drum Raskolnikov had given him. He sat in Klepp's apartment, and for the first time, succeeded in drumming the past. He told Klepp everything through his drum; after a while Klepp joined in on his flute, helping Oskar relate his life story. After several hours of playing, Klepp jumped up, ripped up the picture of Elizabeth, and denounced the royal family. Klepp even washed himself of his own accord - he was purified, resurrected. That night, Klepp suggested they start a jazz band; Oskar made up his mind to stop stonecutting and play the drums full time.

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