Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 22

By Günter Grass

Chapter 22

Fizz Power

  • Oskar opens this chapter by asking us if we remember what fizz powder was. Basically, he seems to be describing the same thing as Pop Rocks candy.
  • In any case, there seems to be something relevant about this little trip down candy memory lane.
  • Oskar returns us to that day he and Maria went to the beach. Maria, while sunbathing next to Oscar, reached into her beach bag and found a small packet of this candy powder inside.
  • At first, Maria doesn't know what to do with it; but she's totally absorbed in looking at it. The same goes for Oskar.
  • After they both stare at the stuff for a while, Maria tears open the package and pours some into her hand. She needs water in order to activate the stuff, so she and Oskar both glance up toward the communal water fountain.
  • The only problem is that this fountain lies all the way up the beach, and the walk there will totally burn off the bottoms of their feet.
  • Eventually, Maria gets the idea that Oskar should spit into her palm. Oskar seems to very clearly remember that it was his spit Maria wanted—his and no one else's.
  • So Oskar pours out all the spit inside his mouth. The stuff fizzes up in Maria's hand, and she experiences what can only be described as some sort of sexual awakening. The most specific thing Oskar can say about it, though, was that it was "a feeling, a feeling, a feeling…" (22.18)
  • Maria eventually puts her palm to her mouth and licks up all of the powder (and Oskar's spit along with it).
  • When she's done, Maria looks around with embarrassment, hoping that no one has seen her. When she makes sure of this, she pours the rest of the packet into her hand and stares at Oskar, wanting more spit from him.
  • But poor Oskar doesn't have any spit left in his mouth. (And yes, the whole thing is a big allegory for sex; we'll leave it to you to figure out what Oskar's lack of spit means.)
  • Hoping to satisfy Maria, Oskar jumps up and runs over the hot sand to the communal drinking fountain to take a drink. When he gets back, though, the fizz powder is gone, and Maria seems to have forgotten about it.
  • Oskar's crushed, feeling like he's too late to continue this special moment with Maria.
  • Back home, Alfred informs both of them that he's going to start going out on certain nights to play skat with some other members of the Nazi party.
  • He decides that on these nights, Oskar should stay over at Maria's place. Every one involved seems happy about the arrangement.
  • After some negotiating in the Truczinski household, it's settled that Oskar and Maria will share a bed twice a week. Does nobody realize that despite his size, Oskar is Maria's age?
  • A few nights later, Maria's getting ready for bed when she catches sight of a packet of fizz powder. It's not clear, but Oskar might have planted it there for her to find.
  • While Oskar pretends to be asleep, he hears Maria turn out the light. Oskar takes this opportunity to pour the powder on Maria and work up some spit… He leaves it at that for now.
  • Over the next few weeks, Oskar and Maria empty over a dozen packets of fizz powder.
  • Eventually, Oskar decides to take things a step farther. He empties part of a packet into Maria's belly button and spits into it, making the thing foam up. Maria tries to lick it out of her own belly button, but Oskar decides to do it for her. When this is over, Maria falls asleep.
  • Oskar, on the other hand, seems to think that Maria's falling asleep is some sort of sexual invitation. Hint: it's not.
  • But in any case, Oskar feels himself getting an erection, and he decides to have sex with Maria while she's sleeping.
  • To end the chapter, he says that his penis had a mind of its own and that he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. We, on the other hand, should be pretty darn skeptical of that.