Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 13

By Günter Grass

Chapter 13

Tapering Toward the Foot

  • Agnes can't forget her encounter with the eels. Neither can we, for that matter. Ugh.
  • For the next few days after the incident, she can't even bear the sight of fish in general.
  • But here's the strange thing: after those few days have passed, she starts eating fish again. And we mean, like, obsessively. She can't for the life of her stop eating fish. Bad fish.
  • She starts to suffer from a medical condition called fish poisoning.
  • Her husband and Jan try to stop her, but she won't listen to them. They get a doctor to intervene, but that doesn't stop her either.
  • In the end, Oskar's mother eats so much fish that she dies. Yeah, apparently that can happen.
  • Just before she dies, the family also learns that she's three months pregnant.
  • Both Jan and Alfred are completely devastated. Oskar's sad, too. But his sadness doesn't even seem to compare with his uncle's and father's.
  • During his mother's funeral, Oskar is surprised to see that his toy dealer, Sigismund Markus, has shown up.
  • The other grownups at the funeral don't want him there. They all circle around him and push him back until he's out of the cemetery.
  • Afterward, Markus asks Oskar why everyone's being so mean to him. And we might not know right away, either.
  • But here's the thing: Sigismund is Jewish and Europe is becoming a tough place for Jews.
  • After the funeral, some of the people in Oskar's family sit down for a game of skat. It's seeing this game that makes Oskar truly realize for the first time that his mother is gone forever.
  • Once he realizes this, he goes to hide underneath his grandmother's skirts, just like his grandfather once did to get away from the police.
  • In his asylum room, Oskar wonders whose skirts he'll be able to hide under now. The answer, of course, is no one's. It hurts him to remember his mother's death, and there's no one around to comfort him.