Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 37

By Günter Grass

Chapter 37

Madonna 49

  • Bad news: currency reform in Germany turns the whole economy upside down, and pretty soon Korneff doesn't have money to keep paying Oskar for stonecutting. So poor Oskar's out of a job for the time being.
  • He spends the next little while bumming around and not knowing what to do.
  • One day, he's approached by a group of art students who ask if he'd be willing to be a nude artists' model at the local art school. They find his "deformed" body very inspiring.
  • At the art school, a professor named Kuchen is very pleased that Oskar will be a model for his class. He seems to think that Oskar's deformed body and blazing blue eyes offer a great symbol of the ugly-yet-brilliant twentieth century.
  • Somewhere in his descriptions of the art classes, Oskar feels compelled to tell us that his penis is just as large as any full-grown man's.
  • During his work as a model, Oskar meets another model, a beautiful woman named Ulla. And Ulla just happens to be the girlfriend of Lankes, the same painter that Oskar once met at the Atlantic Wall while he was working with Bebra's troupe during the war.
  • Lankes is a fairly successful artist, but an abusive boyfriend to Ulla.
  • Oskar's boss (the art professor) one day realizes that there's something missing in Oskar's poses. It's like there's some sort of void around his chest and hands.
  • We'll give you a minute to guess what that might be.
  • Correct.
  • The professor decides that Oskar should wear a tin drum around his neck and hold drumsticks in his hands. Oskar doesn't ever want to touch a tin drum again, but he obeys the professor. He refuses to play the drum.
  • One day, Maria sees a poster for an art exhibition with Oskar's picture on it. She gets mad at Oskar for degrading himself and hits him with a ruler. By this time, she's gotten a good job in a German deli and doesn't need Oskar's extra income.
  • Oskar decides it's time to get his own place and move out.