Study Guide

The Tin Drum Isolation

By Günter Grass

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In The Tin Drum, Oskar claims he didn't even want to be born, and that his goal was to climb back into the womb. Sure, he makes a few "friends" throughout this book, but you always feel as if you should put the word friends inside quotation marks (like we just did). No matter how much affection Oskar claims to have for the people around him, his self-absorbed tone always makes it a little hard to believe him. At the end of the day, he's very intellectualized and narcissistic; empathy isn't his strong point. Relationships are just a huge strain.

Questions About Isolation

  1. What do you think are the main causes of Oskar's isolation from other people?
  2. Why do you think Oskar likes being in the mental hospital? What does his attitude toward visitors seem to be?
  3. Who's the closest person Oskar ever has to a true friend? Why does Oskar allow himself to care about this person so deeply?

Chew on This

Oskar intentionally makes himself stop growing at a young age because he doesn't want people to expect him to be part of the normal world. In this sense, he intentionally isolates himself.

Oskar is a confused young man who's desperate for emotional connection. But he's incapable of it because of his stunted emotional development.

The Tin Drum Isolation Study Group

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