Study Guide

The Tin Drum Chapter 44

By Günter Grass

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Chapter 44

The Ring Finger

  • When Oskar gets back, he finds Klepp pretty unhappy with the new direction of Oskar's drum playing. Klepp has very strict ideas about how to play jazz, and he thinks that Oskar's losing his way. He and Oskar eventually grow apart, and Oskar quits the band.
  • That leaves Oskar looking for a new way to make money. He gives serious consideration to an offer made to him by a man named Dr. Dorsch, who's seen Oskar play at The Onion Cellar and who wants him to do a solo tour all over Europe.
  • When Oskar goes to meet with Dorsch, however, he learns that Dorsch isn't the actual guy behind the tour idea. Dorsch leads him into a room occupied by…
  • Oskar's old guru Bebra! And when we say old, we mean that Bebra has gotten really old. He's all wrinkled and sitting in a motorized wheelchair. We're thinking Yoda here.
  • Oskar's stunned to see Bebra again. But before he even gets a word in, Bebra starts confronting Oskar with all of the things Oskar's secretly felt guilty about his entire life.
  • He even describes things he shouldn't know about, like how Oskar betrayed his uncle Jan to the Germans, or how he murdered his father Alfred with the Nazi pin.
  • Oskar confesses to all of the terrible things he's done in his life and bursts into tears. Only when he's done confessing does Bebra move forward to comfort him and tell him things will be alright. (Note to self #2: Oskar=Germany?)
  • Oskar's drumming tour starts. He also records albums, and before he knows it, he's rich.
  • He gets so wealthy, in fact, that he buys Maria a deli of her own, which might be part of the reason Maria still visits him so often in the mental institution.
  • During one of Oskar's tours, he receives word that Bebra has died. Even though he'll get sued for a lot of money, Oskar cancels a couple of his upcoming tours so he can grieve.
  • During his grieving period, Oskar returns to his old habit of wandering around the city streets. Instead of doing this alone, however, he gets into the habit of renting a dog to walk around with him.
  • Apparently you can rent dogs for the day in Düsseldorf. ZipDog, we think they call it.
  • One day, Oskar's out walking his rented dog (named Lux) when he stops to sit by a wheat field. His dog disappears into the wheat.
  • Minutes later, the dog returns to Oskar holding something in its mouth. Oskar eventually reaches forward to receive the object and realizes that it's a woman's finger with a ring on it. Wait, doesn't this whole ring finger thing sound familiar? Check out the end of Chapter 36 again…
  • Rather than throw the finger away, Oskar wraps it in a handkerchief and puts it in his pocket. Someone calls his name. Oskar had thought he was alone, but it turns out somebody was watching him the entire time.

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