Book Notes

Chapter 44: The Ring Finger Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 44: The Ring Finger

Oskar stopped playing music with Klepp, though they still spent their time together. He was sick of jazz and didn't deny that his style had changed and wasn't jazz any more. Klepp found another drummer for the band and got another gig. The drumming contract was Oskar's last resort. Even though he threw away Dösch's business card, he remembered the number; after a few days, he called and the doctor excitedly set up a meeting.

In the office there was an enormous oak desk. Behind the desk sat Bebra, who had been paralyzed and could only use his fingertips and his eyes. Behind Bebra was a painting, a life-size bust of Rosowitha, which brought Oskar to tears. Oskar admitted everything to Bebra, whom he called his judge - Bebra knew he had killed Agnes and Jan, but he confessed to Matzerath's killing as well. Bebra laughed. A contract was brought in, and Bebra was led off in his motorized chair.

Even though Oskar was making good money, he did not leave the Zeidler flat, for Klepp's sake. Oskar was billed as a little Messiah; he filled two thousand seats a concert with the middle-aged and elderly. They loved to be reduced to blubbering three-year-olds; his biggest hits were drum numbers evoking his childhood. He got several old-time miners to scream out several windows with their voices.

Oskar's second visit with Bebra was easier. He was given his own electric wheelchair, and they chatted as they had years before at the Four Seasons café. Oskar's second tour was praised by the religious press; he turned old sinners into children with hymns. On the third tour, he turned old women into Indian maidens and old men into players of cops and robbers.

Oskar signed a deal with a record company; he had the sterile walls plastered with pictures of old people. The record sold like hotcakes and Oskar became rich. He gave Maria a proposition: if she would throw out Stenzel, her newest lover, he would buy her a brand new modern delicatessen. This she did, and together Oskar and Maria built the store. Now, Oskar says, business is booming; Maria has just opened up a branch store. After Oskar's seventh or eighth tour, Bebra died. Oskar inherited a small fortune and the bust of Roswitha. Oskar became depressed; he refused to play his drum and canceled two tours. Klepp was getting married; he moved out and Oskar was left alone in the Zeidler flat. Oskar rented the room that Sister Dorothea had owned, just so no one else would live there.

Oskar tried a different tack with his depression. He went to a store specializing in the rental of dogs and rented Lux, a powerful rottweiler. The dog led Oskar down to the river, where Oskar let him off his leash in the fields. The dog stayed by Oskar, who kicked him to get him to roam a little. Oskar sat down and drummed up his childhood with two old sticks on a rusted iron drum. Suddenly Lux was back, wagging his tail - he had something in his mouth. Oskar tried to push him away, but the dog insisted. Oskar looked - it was a woman's ring finger, neatly severed. There was a ring on it set with aquamarine. While walking back with the finger in his pocket, Oskar was surprised by Vittlar, who was sitting up in the crook of an apple tree.

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