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The Tin Drum - Term Paper Example

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History and Political Science: The Tin Drum. Question 2. [Alfred Matzerath /Chapter 9: “The Rostrum”] Section a. Alfred Matzerath is portrayed by the narrator Oskar as a contrast to his other father figure Jan Bronski, and so Alfred’s gradual adoption of all the attitudes and attributes of Nazism demonstrates Oskar’s growing awareness of the difference between German Nazism and Polish resistance…
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Download file to see previous pages This shows Alfred a Nazi character, but it also shows that he is weak, under the influence of his wife, and not an absolutely fanatical Nazi. Hitler and Beethoven represent the cultural tensions in the family which in turn result in the young Oskar’s somewhat confused understanding of the power struggles that are going on. Oskar describes Alfred’s fondness for the visual image that the Nazi uniform presents, but the description also shows how uncomfortable it was to wear, since the strap of the cap “scraped his chin” (p. 116) and he had to get wet in the rain because he refused to use an umbrella. (p. 116) Alfred goes out to Sunday demonstrations but apart from that, there is very little change in his activities, since he still cooks, and washes up in the home as he did before. Section b. As far as we can tell from Oskar’s rather biased narrative, Alfred did not really have much of a career as a Nazi Party member. Oskar describes his motivation for joining the party as a natural tendency to conform to his surroundings: “he always had to wave when other people were waving, to shout, laugh and clap when other people were shouting, laughing and clapping.” (p. 152) His membership is described as “quite unnecessary, brought no benefits, and just wasted his Sunday mornings” (p. 152) and so it is obvious that Oskar trivializes and mocks Alfred’s status there. Even when Oskar mentions Alfred’s promotion, he does it in an off-hand manner: “ Like all unusual happenings, his promotion was the occasion for a family skat game.” (p. 115) This is echoed later in connection with a drinking session when Alfred is grieving over the death of Agnes beneath the portrait of the Fuhrer: “the teetotaling Fuhrer was silent, because Matzerath, a drunken little unit leader, was unworthy of Providence” (p. 185). These disparaging comments show that Matzerath filled a very low rank and was of very little importance in the Nazi regime. Section c. The Nazi rally on a summer day in 1935 was a planned set piece which was intended to whip up support from the faithful. The way that Oskar describes it, however, subverts the intentions of the stage and the rows of flag bearing people. It is set up so that people go to a rostrum to look up in awe at the spectacle before them. Everything is regimented in straight lines, and yet the advice of Mr Bebra urges Oscar to be aware of the hidden mechanisms of power that operates during these rallies: “Always take care to be sitting on the rostrum and never to be standing out in front of it.” (p. 114) Oskar views the rostrum from behind it, which shows the mechanisms which orchestrate the event, or from underneath, where he can disrupt it without being seen. Dramatic displays like “torchlight processions and parades past rostrums” (p. 115) may look impressive from the perspective of a spectator, but the depiction in The Tin Drum suggests that the whole thing is a sham, and that it is better either to be fully in favour of it, and on the rostrum, or to utterly oppose it. Going with the flow, like Matzerath, is seen to be the worst option. Section d. There is a lot of symbolism in Oskar’s account of the death of Alfred Matzerath. Clearly the party membership pin that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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