Study Guide

The Tin Drum Sex and Lust

By Günter Grass

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Sex and Lust

In The Tin Drum, Oskar gets exposed to sex at an age where he's too young to understand it—he observes lots of thrashing and moaning and sighing but really doesn't know what's happening. The adults around him seem to have no discretion and he gets to observe a lot of sexual behavior, so he has a precocious fascination with sex. Oskar develops sexual feelings as he gets older despite his childlike body, which gives his sexual experiences a grotesque feel for the reader. Because he lacks the ability to connect emotionally, sex is mostly just a lustful act for him, a way to satisfy his needs. He forces himself on women without feeling bad at all. When Oskar's narrating his own sexual behavior, the language is very sensual, heavy on the smell, taste, and feel of things.

Questions About Sex and Lust

  1. Why do you think Oskar has such distorted ideas about sex?
  2. Why does Oskar go to such great lengths to reassure us that his penis is the same size as a fully-grown human being?
  3. Why do the art students in Book Three like to paint and sculpt Oskar so much? Is it because they find him beautiful, or just the opposite?
  4. Do you think Oskar is capable of a healthy sexual relationship?

Chew on This

Oskar's sexual feelings aren't any different from your typical teenage boy's, but he satisfies his needs like a child.

At the end of the day, Maria Truczinski is right to call Oskar a "filthy little dwarf." He's totally gross and disgusting in his lustful sexual habits.

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