Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 34

By Günter Grass

Chapter 34

Growth in a Boxcar

  • Back in the mental institution, Oskar says that he still feels the pain of his sudden growth spurt back in 1945, even though that seems to be almost ten years ago.
  • In this chapter, Oskar does a remarkable thing. He hands over his pen to his keeper Bruno and asks Bruno to write out the next part of his story.
  • As soon as Bruno starts writing, we find that the guy's much more intelligent than Oskar's made him out to be. This might make us question the way Oskar has portrayed other people throughout this book.
  • Bruno records how Oskar and his family made the train ride from Danzig (now renamed Gdansk) to their new home in Düsseldorf, despite being constantly attacked and robbed by random people on the train.
  • The one thing that manages to make it through this journey unscathed is Oskar's treasured photo album, which he hangs on to for dear life.
  • But Oskar himself is clinging desperately to life. His health is still very bad and the constant growth of his bones has given him a terrible fever. He can barely remember the final leg of the trip to Düsseldorf.
  • In Düsseldorf, Oskar has to go immediately to a city hospital, where he stays for an extended period. His body continues to grow, but not in a pretty way. Oskar's bones start to grow sideways as much as upwards, and he's left with a large hump on his back.
  • We also find out that at some point, Oskar has become famous as a drummer and earned a lot of royalties from his records.
  • As he ends the chapter, Oskar takes back his pen from Bruno and asks Bruno to measure him again. It turns out that within the past three days at the mental hospital, Oskar has grown another inch.