Study Guide

The Tin Drum Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Günter Grass

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Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and 'Fall' Into the Other World

It's not easy to categorize The Tin Drum according to Booker's standard plots. The chronology jumps around, we often don't know what's really happening, and the narrator might be a madman. But we'll give a look at the "Voyage and Return" motif and put out there that the voyage and return is Oskar's journey into life and back.

In this case, Oskar's "fall" into another world is actually his fall into life. He reluctantly leaves the womb and finds himself in a brightly lit, unpleasant place. But the moment he "falls" into life, Oskar feels like he must find something to focus his mind on if life is going to be bearable. His mother's promise of a toy drum on his third birthday is the only thing making him willing to stay alive.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Oskar gets his drum and plays it incessantly as a way of making it through the world. But rather than give in to the demands of life, he stops himself from growing up. He won't go to any school and acts mentally challenged so his parents will stop trying to force him to do things. Now Oskar has the freedom to pursue what he wants, but not the body or strength to do it. He's totally dependent on adults to get him new drums, and learns to manipulate people to get what he wants. What he wants is a steady supply of drums to keep up his appearance of being a child. During this stage, Oskar also falls in love with a young woman named Maria Truczinski, but Maria marries his father instead, breaking Oskar's heart.

Frustration Stage

With Maria and Alfred married, Oskar decides that enough is enough and sets off to join the circus. More specifically, he becomes a performer in a travelling show for German troops with his mentor Bebra. During this tour, he gets romantically involved with a woman his own size, a circus performer named Roswitha. But Roswitha is killed during an Allied attack in France and Oskar is forced to move back home, heartbroken again. The War is moving closer to home.

As Oskar's frustration increases, he begins to sense that some sort of dark shadow or "Black Cook" is following him around and killing off everyone he loves. The War has destroyed his hometown, and after his father Alfred is killed by invading Russian soldiers, Oskar moves to Düsseldorf hoping for a better life.

Nightmare Stage

Things don't get much better in Düsseldorf. After Alfred's death, Oskar finds that he no longer has the desire to play his drum. He decides to allow himself to grow, but once he starts growing, the bones don't grow straight. Oskar grows a huge hunchback and his body becomes twisted and grotesque. He becomes seriously ill. Life doesn't feel like it can get any worse.

Thrilling Escape and Return

Despite his physical setbacks, Oskar forges onward and becomes famous as a solo drummer (once again with the help of his friend Bebra). He enjoys financial success, but finds he's getting tired of adult life. He arranges to have himself accused of murdering a woman, and ultimately he's convicted and sentenced to confinement in a mental hospital. Now, this might not be your idea of "escape," but it's exactly where he wants to be. He can be a child again, taken care of by the nurses. It's the closest thing to a return to the womb that he's going to get.

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