Narrative Vagueness in Grass’s The Tin Drum: A Text-Centric Model of Narration to Reveal Dialogized Heteroglossia

Document Type: Research Article


Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz


The present study sets out to investigate the narrator’s textual position in Grass’s The Tin Drum. Although authorial self-dramatization through affinities with one or more characters in the work is undeniable, this study mainly concentrates on the inner interpenetrations of heteroglot utterances as uttered by an unreliable first-person narrator, Oskar Matzerath, in the light of the Bakhtinian concepts of carnivalesque and polyphony. Through the evasiveness and irresponsibility of the narrator’s act of story-telling, a carnivalesque world is created—a world in which numerous marginalized, unvoiced, and alien utterances interact with the phallocentric as well as the logocentric forces of the dominant culture. In brief, the present study made use of the notion of narrative vagueness in Grass’s The Tin Drum to demonstrate the Bakhtinian sociodialectical principle operating through the stratified, heteroglot utterances of other-speechedness, a functional and yet thematic principle working through the tempospatial, chronotopic nature of languages.