Harry Liebenau, the narrator, a writer employed by video producer Oskar Matzerath. Liebenau, obviously representing the author himself, is a writer from Danzig who was a character in Grass’s Dog Years (1963).
Oskar Matzerath (MAH-tseh-raht), a three-foot-tall, humpbacked drummer who also appeared in Grass’s The Tin Drum (1959). He is now a prosperous, bald, sixty-year-old video producer who wears too many rings and dresses in suits with large checks. Oskar agrees to the narrator’s suggestion to produce a film that would utilize a fairy tale motif to depict the unwillingness of the government to confront the destruction of Germany’s forests by acid rain. As the production goes forward, Oskar is driven to Poland in his Mercedes to attend the 107th birthday celebration of his grandmother, Anna Koljaiczek. His surprise gift to her is a video produced by his company, which had foreseen and recorded in advance everything that would happen at the birthday celebration. In the She-rat’s version of events, the video predicts the destruction of humanity in the midst of the party. Oskar’s grandmother survives for a while after the holocaust, but, after her death, she and a desiccated Oskar become objects of worship for the rats. In the narrator’s alternate version of events, the nuclear holocaust does not occur and Oskar, though afflicted with an enlarged prostate, survives to celebrate his sixtieth birthday and learn of his grandmother’s death.
The Rat, a gray-brown female rat, which the narrator receives as a Christmas present. The She-rat invades the narrator’s dreams in a vision of the nuclear destruction of humanity and its...
(The entire section is 735 words.)