Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 42

By Günter Grass

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Chapter 42

The Onion Cellar

  • Oskar and the Rhine River boys end up scoring a gig at a local nightclub called "The Onion Cellar."
  • The Onion Cellar is a very special kind of club.
  • When people come to the Onion Cellar, the club owner immediately hands everybody a cutting board, a knife, and an onion. And when he gives the cue, everyone starts slicing away.
  • As you can imagine, this creates a lot of tears in the room, and that's just the point.
  • After the crying starts, it's like everyone is suddenly able to tell everyone else what's making them so sad in their lives. It's like a form of group therapy, and anybody who's tried it gets hooked right away.
  • After everyone's had their crying jag, the bar needs a band that can give the people an easy transition from the super emo crying atmosphere back into normal life and normal conversations. That's where Oskar's band comes in.
  • One evening, though, the bar owner's wife takes part in the proceedings and starts bawling about how terrible her husband is. The whole crowd starts to get super rowdy and restless, and Oskar's band can't do anything to calm them down.
  • Oskar launches into a drum solo and drums out his entire life story for the bar. As soon as he starts drumming, everyone in the bar is hypnotized.
  • He takes them through his entire childhood, and as he goes, all of the people start acting like children themselves. Many of them even pee their pants.

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