Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 43

By Günter Grass

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Chapter 43

On the Atlantic Wall or Bunkers Can't Cast Off Concrete

  • When Oskar's performance is over, the bar owner is furious with him for making everyone (including the owner) act like children and wet their pants. He tries to fire Oskar and the band, but his customers make such an uproar that he's forced to compromise. Oskar's band is allowed to play three nights a week at double their usual pay, and Oskar opens up a savings account for all his earnings.
  • Shortly after, Oskar goes to visit the river with Klepp, Scholle the guitarist, the bar owner, and the bar owner's wife. The bar owner goes off to shoot sparrows, and when it's time to leave, Oskar says that he'll find his own way back.
  • Seconds later, the bar owner crashes his car. Everyone else in the car is totally fine, but the bar owner dies.
  • Oskar decides it's a good idea to take his money and go on a trip. He asks several people to come with him, but eventually has to settle for Lankes the artist.
  • Oskar and Lankes decide to go revisit the German machine gun station in France where they first met during World War II.
  • While they're eating lunch, they notice some nuns walking down on the beach. Lankes and Oskar are reminded of the time their commander Herzog ordered Lankes to gun down two nuns hanging out on the same beach.
  • One of the nuns comes walking by. Lankes invites her to join him deeper inside the pillbox. She hesitates for a long time, but eventually comes in with him.
  • When the two of them reemerge, it's clear that Lankes and the nun have had sex. The nun seems embarrassed to look at Oskar, and she goes hurrying out.
  • A little while later, Oskar watches this same nun walk into the ocean with her clothes still on. He can't tell if she's going for a swim or committing suicide.
  • Oskar criticizes Lankes for the way he treats women (like Oskar's one to talk). Lankes says that there's absolutely nothing wrong with having sex with a consenting adult, and the two of them stop paying attention to the nun who just walked into the ocean.
  • Lankes closes the chapter by wondering aloud about how he could turn the sight of the nuns on the beach into a beautiful painting.

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