Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Margaret Duggan


In this paper I explore the collective functions of children and adolescents in Glinter Grass's Danzig Trilogy, The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse, and Dog Years. Youngsters in these books function as narrators, protagonists, and audience, and provide both theme and structure to Grass's writing. Like all young people, they are at once curious, imaginative, unreliable, and naive. They have a special affinity for the grotesque and the bizarre, not surprising when one considers the world in which they were growing up. For instance, brown-shirts are authority figures and, instead of serving as sources of knowledge, teachers indoctrinated children in the Nazi Party line. The children of Grass's trilogy perceive that such adults could not be trusted and so they rejected the adult world and took comfort and refuge in immaturity. Using their unique narrative perspective allows Grass to tell a story, to comment on the period of the second World War in Germany, and to express concern for Germany's future. In On Writing and Politics: 1967-1983, a collection of his essays published in 1984 which echoes the same anxiety for his country found in the Danzig Trilogy, Grass often expresses his concern for paths that German youth are choosing and he reminds them of the future consequences of those choices. In one essay from that collection titled "What Shall We Tell the Children?" Grass wants to show the children of Germany the common, cumulative thread of guilt which weaves through the tattered fabric of the Third Reich. He knows first-hand that impressionable youth was most deeply affected by Hitler's mad debacle. Perhaps that is why the main characters in each book of the Danzig Trilogy are young boys when their stories begin. They are at once susceptible to the allure of the Nazi rhetoric and protected from it by virtue of their youthful innocence. It is because of both their susceptibility and their innocence that Grass chooses to see his native Danzig through their eyes and to tell in their words a story which is more accurate in his fiction than in the accounts of the time.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Grass, Gunter, 1927-2015. Danziger Trilogie
Grass, Gunter, 1927-2015 -- Characters -- Children
Children in literature
National socialism in literature




South Dakota State University



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