Study Guide

The Tin Drum Vanity

By Günter Grass

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It's safe to say that Oskar's a vain individual in The Tin Drum. It's even safe to say he's narcissistic. He spends a lot of his time trying to convince us how superior he is to other people. We can speculate whether Oskar is just this way by nature, or if he's this way because he's compensating for being small. Don't forget, Oskar's claim that he willfully stopped growing could just be another lie designed to make him feel like he's more in control of his life than he actually is. Some of the things he's proud of are pretty destructive—his glass-shattering voice, for example, his ability to manipulate, or his out-of-control libido. There are plenty of times that Oskar's pride is hurt, but he tries to pretend he doesn't care.

Questions About Vanity

  1. Do you think there's anything about Oskar that he has a right to be proud of?
  2. Are Oskar's parents proud of him?
  3. In what ways does Oskar's vanity create social problems for him?

Chew on This

Oskar's pride in his destructive and controlling activities reflect Grass's opinion about the ridiculous pride of the Nazis.

In The Tin Drum, Oskar's self-absorbed vanity is totally a way of compensating for the vulnerability he feels as a little person.

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