Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 12

By Günter Grass

Chapter 12

Good Friday Fare

  • On the Christian holiday of Good Friday, Oskar's family shuts down its grocery store and goes to the beach. Of course, Uncle Jan comes along for the trip.
  • Oskar's now in his teens, but he still looks like he's only three years old.
  • While they're at the beach, Oskar and his family notice a man sitting on a rock holding a big thick rope that goes out into the sea and disappears. None of them know what the man's doing, since the rope is way too thick to be a piece of fishing line.
  • But just as they're about to leave, the man starts hauling in the rope hand over hand. Now Oskar's whole family can't help but stay and watch.
  • Finally, the guy finishes his hauling and pulls up a—wait for it—severed horse's head.
  • Now that sounds wicked disgusting, right?
  • After staring at the head for a few seconds, Oskar realizes that the thing is completely full of eels that are trying to eat the horse's flesh from the inside out.
  • The man with the rope jumps up and suddenly starts pulling eels out of the horse's head—out from the mouth, through the nose, through the ears, you name it. The whole scene is totally gross, and Oskar's mother has to turn away to vomit.
  • Each time the man with the rope pulls out a new eel, he chucks it into a sack full of salt so that the eel will wriggle itself to death and the salt will take all the slime off of its body.
  • When the man's done pulling out eels, he picks up his sack and gets ready to go. Oskar's mother is still puking her brains out while Jan tries to comfort her.
  • Alfred, on the other hand, thinks that eel might be just the thing to cook for supper that night. He stays behind to haggle with the fisherman while Jan, Oskar, and Agnes walk away.
  • When they get home, Oskar's dad starts to prepare the eels for supper. Agnes tells him that he's insane if he thinks she's going to eat eel after what she just saw.
  • Alfred's now committed to having fresh eel for supper, and he gets really angry at Agnes for not supporting him. Seriously, Al?
  • As Alfred angrily makes eel soup in the kitchen, Agnes sits on the couch in the family room and Jan sits beside her.
  • While Jan sits beside Agnes, he starts to feel her up. This calms her down, even though Oskar's in the room and staring at both of them.
  • Eventually, Oskar decides that he's seen enough. He gets up and goes into his parents' bedroom. He climbs into their wardrobe and tries to shut the doors behind him. But they stay a little bit open, so that a sliver of light can make it through.
  • When Alfred comes out with his finished eel soup, he tells Agnes that she won't be eating that night if she doesn't eat what he's cooked. Ungrateful wench!
  • Agnes runs into the bedroom while Alfred storms back into the kitchen.
  • Agnes jumps onto the bed and cries into the mattress. Jan comes in behind her and puts his hand under her skirt. Oskar, meanwhile, is watching all of this from inside the wardrobe.
  • When things have calmed down, Jan and Agnes go back into the family room to play a game of skat with Alfred.
  • Do we think that Oskar has any chance of growing up to have normal ideas about sex? We don't.