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“The Tin Drum” by Günter Grass Literature Analysis Essay


Narrated by the impractical dwarf Oskar, The Tin Drum incorporates features of German folklore and the grotesque to discover different aspects about it such as economic and political, social difficulties of German lifetime since 1900 through World War II. The readers are directed by Oskar Matzerath, the main character, who takes advantage of his position as the narrator and sheds light and presents his character as the main protagonist. At first, Oskar drums to put at a distance between him and grownups.

He also drums for companionship since he has no company in his isolated bubble of life, at least, in his own mind; he thought he was getting so much advantage from it since he was a spectacularly talented drummer. It is possible to note that Oskar, being a little dwarf, transforms into a powerful man with the help of his drumming and his voice and his masculinity is embodied in his musical talent.

Oskar really has a specific ability to affect people via his drumming. He makes use of this in numerous ways. For instance, he exploits his ability to drum to affect women and win their affection. First of all, it is necessary to state that it was Oskar’s choice to remain a child at the age of three.

He did not want to grow into adulthood as he knew that adults made lots of bad decisions and were quite miserable. Nonetheless, Oskar grew up and developed into an adult personality enclosed in a child body. This enabled him to play the fool and remain irresponsible all the time.

However, his little body lacked masculinity in common sense. He was hardly an object of desire for the majority of females as he was still seen as a child. Therefore, Oskar had to unveil his masculinity in a different way, other than the rest of men. He had a specific voice and a talent to drum. These were his tools and his own features of masculinity.

Thus, his talent to drum helped him and those who were beside him to feel the power of his music. His walks with Auntie Kauer gave him the sense of his power as they walked and he drummed while she was singing. Notably, the main street traffic always stopped, and everything “came to a standstill” while they were walking (Grass 62).

More importantly, Oskar understood his power over women as he noted, “I can safely say I dressed and undressed that skinny woman… With my drum,” even though he did not think about her body and did not aim at seducing her (Grass 62). The little man knew he had power over women and used it whenever he needed it.

It is noteworthy that Oskar’s voice was really powerful as he could damage glass. Apart from this ability, his voice had a very peculiar effect on women. It is possible to state that his “divine but certainly devilish nature” of his “genius” made women submissive (Grass 158). Women felt his masculine power, which was enclosed in his voice. There were danger and power, sorrow, and joy of the entire nation in that voice. Oskar knew about his power and used it to win women’s affection.

Admittedly, Oskar’s musical talent and specific voice are only symbols which make the reader think of masculinity and the way it was seen in the late 1950s and in the first part of the twentieth century. Thus, the Nazi developed particular standards where masculinity was one of the central values for men. Dwarfs were not masculine at all as they did not fit in the standardized reality of Nazi Germany. Oskar could not be seen as a man in that society, but he found the way to reveal his masculinity in his specific way.

It is important to stress that the author chooses such tools as drumming and voice, which are used to win women’s affection. The author emphasizes that physical attractiveness is not the only thing which is necessary to attract women. The small man has a damaging power enclosed in his “diamond-hard” voice and his musical talent (Grass 169). This is the danger and power all women are looking for in their men. Lots of women are ready to succumb to a man who controls the power of destruction.

In other words, Oskar’s masculinity was revealed in his ability to destroy. It is possible to assume that this power of destruction is one of the central features of masculinity, according to the author. Masculinity is often seen as another word for power. This is men’s power to control their lives, some women or even communities and societies.

It is noteworthy that the author draws readers’ attention towards an important issue of the essence of masculinity, which is far from physical features, at least, in the modern world. Power of destruction is a potent tool which makes women vulnerable and submissive. Oskar makes use of this power and proves he is a real man who can win almost any female’s heart.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that Oskar’s drumming and voice can be regarded as symbols or facets of masculinity and his tools to win a woman’s love. The little man is able to damage buildings as well as societal norms. The author reveals one of the essential features of masculinity. Clearly, masculinity is represented as a great power to destroy.

Oskar manages to take control over his life in a specific way, which makes him an outcast. However, this outcast has great power, and he uses it in a number of ways. Clearly, his destructive power is often aimed at destructing other people’s lives and his own existence.

Works Cited

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, March 31). "The Tin Drum" by Günter Grass Literature Analysis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-tin-drum-by-gnter-grass-literature-analysis/

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""The Tin Drum" by Günter Grass Literature Analysis." IvyPanda, 31 Mar. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-tin-drum-by-gnter-grass-literature-analysis/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Tin Drum" by Günter Grass Literature Analysis." March 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-tin-drum-by-gnter-grass-literature-analysis/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Tin Drum" by Günter Grass Literature Analysis." March 31, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-tin-drum-by-gnter-grass-literature-analysis/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Tin Drum" by Günter Grass Literature Analysis'. 31 March.

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