Book Notes

Chapter 41: On the Fiber Rug Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 41: On the Fiber Rug

Oskar says that today it is Klepp who is trying to get Oskar out of bed; he is trying to get even because Oskar had made him forsake his bed. In the wake of their first duet, Klepp became a dues-paying communist. The promise of the jazz band excited Oskar. He and Klepp talked about it incessantly, deciding they needed a third man, a guitarist who could also play banjo. It was during this time that Klepp and Oskar would cut up their passport photos over beer and blood sausage. They looked in all the Düsseldorf bars for a guitarist, and though they picked up with some bands, they found no one. Oskar had trouble playing; half his thoughts were with Sister Dorothea. But he gave himself up to Klepp. He stopped posing with Ulla, who was engaged again to Corporal Lankes, and no longer needed the money; he hated posing without her. Oskar no longer went to see Maria and Kurt, because her new husband (and boss) Mr. Stenzel was always around.

One day, Zeidler asked Klepp and Oskar to help him install a new coconut fiber rug in the hallway, which they did. They were rewarded with a bottle of schnapps, which they drank as they worked. They sang the praises of the carpet, then when Mrs. Zeidler joined them, Zeidler flew into a rage, and broke glasses against the stove.

It was on this rug that Oskar met Sister Dorothea. Unable to sleep, Oskar got up and went to the toilet, wrapped in a cut-off remnant of the coconut fiber rug. Entering the bathroom in the dark, Oskar heard a feminine scream. Oskar made no motion to leave, though it was clear that the woman was sitting on the toilet. Oskar presumed it was Sister Dorothea; he tried to cover up the situation with conversation. The nurse tried to push him away, but aimed too high in the dark for Oskar's small stature. She exclaimed "Oh heavens, it's the devil!" Oskar giggled, then replied that indeed he was Satan. He filled the role easily. He let her slip to her knees, then to her back. He covered her with the length of the coconut fiber mat, covering her up to her mouth. He hissed like the Devil, and could see the fiber mat act like the fizz powder had on Maria. But Oskar found himself unable to consummate the relationship; he was unable to become erect. He pleaded with Satan, but Satan did not oblige; Oskar was humiliated. He was forced to tell her that he was Oskar Matzerath, her neighbor and admirer. Sister Dorothea began to sob. She got up and started packing to move out, right then. She left that night; Oskar never got to see her face.

Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 17

The Zeidlers came out; Zeidler was in a rage and Mrs. Zeidler giggled. Zeidler threatened to put Oskar out; just then, Klepp came in with their long-sought guitarist, Scholle. They picked him up without a question and took him to his room. They stayed up until daybreak, and then played together on the banks of the Rhine. They decided to call themselves "The Rhine River Three."

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