Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 31

By Günter Grass

Chapter 31

The Ant Trail

  • Now Oskar recounts the trial of all the Dusters. Just like he did with Jan Bronski, Oskar uses his small size to play the part of the innocent child, and he just watches as each Duster confesses and gets sentenced (maybe to death) by a German judge.
  • Oskar gets off scot-free.
  • Shortly after the trial, Danzig comes under heavy attack by the Russians. Eventually, the Russians push back the German troops and take over the city.
  • Oskar, Maria, Kurt, Frau Greff, and Alfred hide in their house's basement.
  • The Russians break into the cellar and take turns raping Lina Greff while holding the others at gunpoint. You can tell Oskar thinks these guys are barbarians.
  • Alfred knows that if the Russians find out he's a member of the Nazi party, they'll kill him. But the only piece of evidence left in the house is a tiny Nazi pin that Oskar is holding concealed in one of his hands.
  • As the Russians root around the basement, Oskar hands this pin to Matzerath.
  • Alfred panics and shoves the pin into his mouth, trying to swallow it. But Oskar left the pin open, so it sticks in Alfred's windpipe and throws him into a gruesome, bloody fit of choking.
  • Before Matzerath can choke to death, one of the Russian soldiers shoots him dead with a machine gun. It's not clear whether the soldier was being merciful or if he was just annoyed with all the noise.
  • Oskar lets slip that he "might" have opened the pin on purpose before passing it to Alfred.