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Re: Ch. 11, No Wonder
Grass sprinkles around some tong-in-cheek comments that make reading this fun. And serve to keep me reading carefully. Here are two:
"... the taxi stood waiting in clear to partly cloudy weather." "... mounted the plaster clouds, knocking over flowers in the mid-price range ..."
This is the chapter that shows us Oskar will remain an atheist. He puts Christ to the test and Christ fails. A few interesting quotes:
"... I asked Satan within me, 'Did you make it through?' "... the congregation attempted to slip their strings of sin with bead after bead of sinfully tawdry jewels through the lattice and into his priestly ear." "I thanked Satan inside me for having survived the baptism and for providing me with an antidote that permitted me to stride across the flagstone of the Church of the Sacred Heart as a blasphemer, but still unbowed."
So, Oskar's atheism is confirmed, just as some Christian children are confirmed, through ceremony, prayer, and reliance on an indwelling spirit.
"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost
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Re: Ch. 11, No Wonder
I love it when Oskar demands that a miracle take place, then "patiently" waits an overlong time, then gets fed up and convinced, as you have nicely excerpted, Gary.
Ah, his self-justification is limitless.
But at first I was upset by Oskar calling on Satan. I mean, jeesh, Oskar is a nice, human, suffering little guy. What gives? Is he getting serious? But then I decided that Oskar does not call on Satan to to be wickedly evil, but rather just to add to the pedestal of self-justification upon which he rises. That is, he cares no more about things Satanic than he does does about being a naughty little boy. Everything, it seems, is subordinate to his ego. The actual facts of the matter are irrelevant, barely worth noting. Is Oskar, or one of Oskar's selves, a psychopath, with the literal inability to feel human emotion and right vs. wrong?
We all have selective memory. I do, to a fault. Does Oskar represent Germans (or all people) who had the far more rare, highly developed and much sought after "selective psycopathy"?
(Aside: we live in Germany and my wife just took the USO trip to Munich and on the way back they stopped at one of Munich's suburbs called Dachau. There are houses right next to the preserved entrance to the compound and museum. Man, who would want to live THERE? Yet hundreds live within direct view of that place of horror. It is your home, after all. Is there "selective blindness"?)
And regardless of the 'deep inner meaning' of the scenes, the visual imagery really is memorable and funny, or at least fun. Oskar does so many outrageous things - he seems to have more fun that we normal humans do. He is a risk-taker, and smart as a whip, and coldly calculating, yet in touch with his inner emotions at the same time. What a character!
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Re: Ch. 11, No Wonder
This is one strange chapter! And true to form, the wit of Grass comes out during the most important passages.
The entire chapter is full of memorable images and passages. This quote is taken right after Oskar is baptized:
. . . and I asked the Satan within me; “Did you get through it all right?” Satan jumped up and down and whispered; “Did you see those church windows? All glass, all glass!
Oskar did not have his powerful voice at the time of his baptism, he also did not have his tin drum at this time. I see the narrator struggling with his own faith here. Although the chapter does gives the reader a fantastic image of the workings of Oskar reasoning and how he lost his faith, there may be events that happen to the narrator later in his life that affected his belief system, and the narrator chose to introduce it here, while Oskar is a baby. I almost feel that the narrator sees himself as being doomed, or damned from birth.
During the baptism of Oskar it is Jan who vocalizes Oskar’s renouncing of Satan. Oskar wants to shake his head, no, I do not renounce him. Satan has the connotation of evilness and wickedness. The narrator is telling this tale as an adult. Something happens to make this narrator believe he is damned and he may be trying to convince not only himself, but the reader as well, that he was born evil. This would take control away from the narrator for any bad deeds he may have committed during his life. The narrator gives me the impression that he feels he is truly an evil and bad person. This is kinda sad. I’m feeling sympathy for both Oskar and the narrator, because I am seeing them blend a bit more.
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