Study Guide

Maria Truczinski in The Tin Drum

By Günter Grass

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Maria Truczinski

Maria's the young woman Oskar declares to be his "first love" (21.22). She's seventeen when she enters his life after his mother's death, when his father hires her to help him at the store.

Oskar's first impression of her is of a fresh-faced, kind young woman.

Maria wasn't just named for a saint, she was one. Not only did she manage, within a few weeks, to restore the good reputation of our shop, she also showed, along with her friendly but firm approach to business, to which Matzerath gladly submitted, some true understanding for my situation. (21.12)

Part of her responsibility is to take care of Oskar. Their relationship is intimate, because she treats him like a child, even though he's about the same age as Maria. As Oskar describes:

She undressed me, washed me, helped me into my pajamas. (21.25)

This is all pretty arousing to Oskar, especially since Maria undresses with him at the beach, where he gets a full-frontal look at Maria and buries his face in her privates. Maria just laughs this off though and pushes him away, saying:

"You are such a little rascal! Head for it but don't know what it is, and then you cry." (21.45)

One of their routines at the beach is to eat "fizz powder," which Maria finds sexually stimulating. Oskar resolves to get fizz powder for her at every opportunity. The two of them share a bed while Maria is "babysitting" him, and one night Oskar has sex with her while she's sleeping. Maria finally realizes he's a teenage boy and accuses him of being "a nasty dwarf, a crazy midget" (23.37). Maria finally realizes that Oskar is sexually mature, despite his size, and can't deal with that. She can no longer think of him as just a playmate.

One day, Oskar comes home to find Maria and his father having sex. Maria eventually marries Alfred and gives birth to a son, Kurt, but she remains protective of Oskar. She works hard to make Alfred's business succeed, and all the customers love her. When Oskar gets rich, he buys her a deli of her own. She visits Oskar at the asylum and makes sure he has a constant supply of drums.

Maria Truczinski in The Tin Drum Study Group

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