Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 19

By Günter Grass

Chapter 19

House of Cards

  • Kobyella gets badly wounded. Jan helps him down a staircase with the help of another worker named Viktor. Jan's talking frantically about how the English and French are going to come to Poland's side and save them from Germany.
  • Jan and Oskar decide that the best way to respond to this is to sit down beside Kobyella and start play a game of skat. The whole thing's pretty absurd.
  • Throughout the game, Kobyella keeps passing out as if he's going to die. But being responsible for playing the next card seems to keep him alive.
  • During the game, Jan also gets delusional and starts calling Oskar by his mother's name, Agnes.
  • Eventually, Kobyella dies. Just as the game is about to end, the Germans come in with flamethrowers, and that pretty much puts an end to the battle.
  • No one's interested in being burned alive, even though the Poles know being captured will be every bit as bad. Oskar tells us at this point that the biggest shame of the whole thing is that Jan was just about to win the game of skat.
  • As they're led out of the building, Oskar notices a German film team recording the German victory to show in movie theaters. Deciding that he'd rather have the Germans not know he's a full grown boy, he starts screaming and acting like a three-year-old.
  • As he's being carried away, Jan's looking after him and smiling foolishly to himself. The guy's nerves are totally fried.