Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 24

By Günter Grass

Chapter 24

Carrying My Helplessness to Frau Greff

  • Oskar opens this chapter by talking about his father's friend Greff, the guy who runs a fruit and vegetable shop and whose wife taught Oskar his ABCs when he was little.
  • After a long description of how physically fit Mr. Greff was for his age, Oskar reminds us that the man's love for his Boy Scouts and shop left him with little time to spend with his wife.
  • It turns out that over the years, Greff got really elaborate with how he designed the scales for weighing fruits and vegetables for his shops. He designed them so they played music. Unfortunately, his scales weren't all that practical because they didn't weigh fruits and vegetables accurately. This gets Greff into trouble with the government officials who are responsible for making sure that people like Greff don't cheat their customers.
  • Greff serves as a witness at the wedding of Oskar's father Alfred and his first love, Maria. And as Maria's pregnant belly gets bigger with each passing month, Oskar's hate grows with it.
  • Oskar decides that he doesn't want Maria to have the child. So he waits until he catches Maria up on a ladder, then pushes the ladder so it comes toppling over. Maria only sprains her ankle, but she seems to know what Oskar was trying to accomplish.
  • When Maria's farther along in her pregnancy, Oskar makes another attempt to end her pregnancy, this time by stabbing her in the belly with scissors. Maria grabs the scissors from him and tells Alfred she wants Oskar out of the house until the baby is born. She doesn't reveal to Alfred, though, just how psycho Oskar has been acting.
  • Soon enough, Kurt is born while Oskar's staying at Maria's mother's house.
  • At Kurt's baptism, Oskar refuses to go into the church. Alfred lets him have his way, since the man has no interest in Oskar shattering all the church's windows.
  • For dessert, Alfred serves vanilla pudding, which throws Oskar into fits because Oskar associates the smell of vanilla with his early "romance" with Maria.
  • Oskar ends the chapter by clinging to Frau Greff's skirts and breathing in Frau's smell to fill his nostrils with something other than the smell of vanilla.