Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 27

By Günter Grass

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Chapter 27

Inspecting Concrete—or Mystical Barbaric Bored

  • Oskar and the troupe continue to tour around, getting better and better at putting on their show. They perform all through the winter of 1941, and Oskar only mentions his family once to say that he really doesn't miss them.
  • He never even sends a postcard, since he still seems to be angry at Maria, Alfred, and even little Kurt.
  • During these years, Oskar carries on a romantic relationship with Roswitha.
  • Now we've jumped forward three years to 1944. As you history buffs probably know, the Allied forces had turned the tide in the war by this point, and were pushing back the Germans on every front.
  • Bebra and his troop get called to the "Atlantic Wall" in France to help improve the troops' spirits. This is where the Normandy Invasions will eventually happen.
  • Bebra, Oskar, and the troupe all go to the edge of the beach to hang out near a German gunning station known as a pillbox.
  • While they're there, they meet up with a soldier named Corporal Lankes and watch as two nuns down on the beach bend down to start collecting prawns (large shrimp).
  • Another nutty German officer named Herzog marches over and orders Lankes to gun down the nuns, since they might be Allied agents in disguise. Lankes tries to resist, but eventually follows orders and murders the nuns.
  • After all of this has happened, Bebra and his troupe have a conversation with Lankes about how the phrase "Mystical Barbaric Bored" should be a slogan for the twentieth century.
  • Lankes reminds them that when you make a building out of concrete, it's good luck to shove a live puppy into the cement before it hardens.
  • So yeah. Mystical barbaric bored.
  • Soon after, the Allies start invading the beaches. Bebra and his troupe need to get away from the fighting. But just as they're all getting on the German trucks, Roswitha decides that she wants to grab a cup of coffee. She asks Oskar to go get it, but Oskar refuses.
  • Roswitha jumps off the truck. But before she can get her coffee, she's hit by an Allied bomb and dies. Oskar has to carry the guilt of her death around from that point forward.
  • By now, the two of them have been together for over a year, and Roswitha's death crushes Oskar. Although again, there's always something not quite human about the way Oskar talks about his grief.

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