Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 40

By Günter Grass

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Chapter 40


  • After he's left Sister Dorothea's room, Oskar hears a cough coming from another room down the hallway. He ignores it at first, but soon realizes that the cough is meant to get his attention.
  • He goes to check out who's trying to summon him.
  • When he gets to the end of the hall, he peeks into a room and finds a man lying in a filthy bed. The entire room is full of trash and dirt. The man is obese and looks as if he hasn't left his bed in several days.
  • He asks Oskar if he might be a dear and boil some water for him on the stove in the kitchen. Apparently, the man can't or won't get up to do it himself.
  • Oskar goes to boil the water and brings it back to the man. The man, not wanting to be rude, offers Oskar some of the spaghetti he's making. Catching a whiff of just how filthy the room is, Oskar declines. But eventually, the man convinces him to try some spaghetti. To Oskar's surprise, the meal is one of the best things he's ever eaten.
  • As they sit together, the man (who introduces himself as Klepp—ahh, Klepp the asylum visitor) asks to hear Oskar's story. Oskar wants to tell him, but doesn't quite know what to say at first. He fetches his drum to help him summon his memories.
  • When Oskar starts drumming, Klepp gets excited and sits up in his bed. Then he reaches under the bed and pulls out a flute, which he starts playing along with Oskar's music.
  • The two of them end up playing for several hours straight.
  • When they've finished, Klepp seems to have rediscovered his energy. He gets out of bed and tells Oskar that the two of them need to start a jazz band together.
  • Oskar accepts, and the two of them get drunk together at a bar that night.

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