Joined: Mar 2010 Posts: 261 Location: Wheaton, Illinois, USA
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Re: Ch. 9, The Rostrum
Here my analogy of Oskar as inter-war Germany breaks down. Oskar does all he can to thwart public gatherings including the big Nazi rallies of the late 1930s. There were, undoubtedly, some Germans who actively and/or covertly resisted Nazism before the German invasion of Poland but it would not be consistent with the rest of the early part of the book to use Oskar to represent them.
Of course, there is no law that says Grass must be consistent--none of the rest of us real people are!
(I am again thinking "Theater of the Absurd.")
"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost
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Re: Ch. 9, The Rostrum
Gary, I think you are on to something again. Oskar slips himself into the story when he feels like it, and his perspective seems to constantly change. Imagine talking to someone who did bad (and good) things during a war, who suffered (and had some laughs) and now talks about it. Perhaps this person would variously place himself on one side (victor, aggressor) or the other (loser, target). They say the worst anti-smoker is the one who used to smoke. I saw an interview of a normal rural Lithuanian in his 70's who had participated in a mass slaughter of Lithuanian Jews under the auspices of the Nazi Einsatzgruppe #1. This guy killed, personally, dozens of people one afternoon in 1941 and now, 50 years later, he attempts to minimize and simultaneously empathize with the severity of 'the' slaughter - but not 'his' role in it. Very schizophrenic. Was it this chapter where Oskar just rips the Germans who attempted to justify their passivity during the Third Reich? What was it.... "Their claim to 'resistance' was getting spoken to for not blackening out their windows completely!" So the extreme moralist-from-his-hospital-bed Oskar just ridicules his countrymen who went along for the ride, and then attempted to distance themselves from the horror later - yet during the Third Reich, it seems Oskar is himself just a little amoral weenie who grows ever more confident in his righteousness, with not a care for another in the world. But when Oskar is obviously aping Hitler, is he at the same time saying the Germans were doing it, too? Sometimes Oskar speaks for "Germans", sometimes as a representative of their leader from 1933-1945 and sometimes just as himself.
So it gets hard and almost unpleasant for us readers to try and figure it all out - or even just to keep score of whose side Oskar is playing for. He switches sides mid-sentence, and then comments on the side he just left! Plus, we have to always wonder if he is a reliable narrator.
But I think he is a reliable narrator. Crazy - but with integrity!
But for those who are wavering, stick with it. The next chapter or two are extremely memorable, and Oskar's emotional depths are plumbed. One particular image flashed back to me from deep down inside. I had seen the movie but remembered nothing but the poster image - until I read the chapter by the seaside.... EnGROSSing!
Joined: Apr 2010 Posts: 556 Location: Connecticut
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Re: Ch. 9, The Rostrum
Grass is definitely using Oskar to show the schizophrenia that was going on in Germany at the time, probably including his own. Oskars' drumming to disrupt rallies is very interesting given his usual self-involvement, or maybe this drumming was also. In any event I found that one scene quite funny.
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