Upper Echelon 2nd Class
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Re: Ch. 4, The Photograph Album
The wit Grass possesses and grants to Oskar is prevalent in this chapter. I found myself laughing many times. Oskar explains and describes the many people in his life through the random photographs that have been collected in his photo album, at one point he refers to the photo album as a novel.
Oskar tells us about his weekly outings with his friend Klepp. Each week they pay for photos, and each week they compare these photos to those previously taken. These snapshots are cut and rearranged as Oskar explains:
“Klepp borrowed features from me and I from him; thus we succeeded in making a new and, we hoped, happier creatures”, (pg 52).
Oskar is also somewhat obsessed with the photos taken of his mother, Matzerath and Jan Bronski. He seems to be searching for something, he scrutinizes photos, compares them to one another, and he notices changes between them over time. He is putting the pictures together like puzzle pieces, trying to create a larger and more detailed image of the lives of the people the photos depict.
Oskar turns three years old in this chapter and as promised he receives his tin drum. And upon this monumental date he makes himself a promise and he declares,
“. . . I would never under any circumstances be a politician, much less a grocer, that I would stop right there, remain as I was—and so I did; for many years I not only stayed the same size but clung to the same attire”, (pg 60).
The themes of change and development are seen in this chapter. Oskar measures the changes in people over time through photographs, and makes a bold decision to stop his own physical development. However, Oskar’s mind and curiosity remain sharp, and his tongue even sharper when speaking of adults and the theme of development. You can almost see him sneering when he makes the bold statement,
“I remained the precocious three year old, towered over by grownups but superior to all grownups, who refuses to measure his shadow with theirs, who was complete both inside and outside, while they, to the very brink of the grave, were condemned to worry their heads about “development”, (pg 61).