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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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Crystal Lee

on 28 April 2015

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Transcript of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Theme One: The Significance of Emotional and Physical
Journeys
Theme Two: Dealing with Death, Loss, and Grief
Theme Four: The Intricacy of Relationships
Theme Five: The Place of an Individual in the Universe
Conclusion
Jonathan Safran Foer: Early Life
Language is a tool for expressing the many human states
Beginning of the novel is littered with ideas of "what if inanimate objects could speak"; conveys Oskar's own helplessness in communicating with others (projection)
Upon meeting Oskar, Grandpa begins to write more and more; he now WANTS to express himself
Theme Three: The Differing Uses of Language
University Life
-studied philosophy at Princeton
-writing course under Joyce Carol Oates, noted his talent
-first person to make him consider writing seriously
-guided by Joyce, wrote senior thesis
about grandfather Louis Safran
-Princeton Senior Creative
Writing Thesis Prize
Characters
Family

The Help
Misc.
Oskar
Mom
Grandma
Thomas Jr.
Thomas Sr./
Grandpa
Aaron Black,
Edmund Black
Mr. Black
Abby Black
William Black
Anna
Ron
Mom
Grandma

Thomas Jr.
Thomas Sr./ Grandpa
- born February 21, 1997 in
Washington, D.C.
-middle child, 2 brothers Franklin
and Joshua
- Father Albert Foer is a lawyer and mother Esther Foer is businesswoman
-attended Georgetown Day School

Literary Career
-senior thesis--->Everything is Illuminated
-earned several awards and made into a movie in 2005
-his second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close published April 1, 2005
-widely criticized with mixed reviews about his style, but became a bestseller like his first novel

Overarching theme of the novel
Parallel journeys: Oskar's journey through NYC; Grandparent's journey through space and time
Symbol: Reconnaissance Expedition

Grief in ELAIC
Oskar's perspective and problems

Oskar's journey allows him to see how universal grief is; Parallel with Mr. Black's
The journey of his Grandparents also reveal how destructive grief can be when on the path to recovering
Symbol: Luggage
Emotional baggage that Grandpa carries around

Symbol #1: Letters
Symbol #2: Doorknobs
Grandma & Grandpa
Hyperabstract vs concrete
Pretending to ignore the past
Typewriter
The grandfather at the airport, other lives
Gran
relationship between his Mom and Ron
End resolves with Oskar accepting the view of his father: there is no reason for the existence of the stars, that's just the way things are
Oskar learns to accept the way things are; Views with a positive spin (flipbook showing man flying up the building)
Symbol: Sixth Borough

Plot
Plot
Oskar's Journey
Thomas Sr.' Journey
Grandma's Journey
Girl in Dresden
Immigrant in New York
Relationship with Thomas Sr.
Caring for Oskar
Leaving Oskar
troubled and eccentric boy
discovers an envelope
quest to find the owner of the key
travel through all five boroughs conquering fears
meets the "renter"
dig up the empty coffin
catharsis and reconciliation
Adolescent in Germany
Falls in Love with Anna
Dresden bombing
Loss of speech
Moves to New York and relationship Grandma
Escapes commitment
Guilt and letters
Post 9/11
The graveyard and the letters
Fleeing once again
Style
-photos, letters, pages of a journal, and traditional narrative
-"scattered" mindset of Oskar after loss of his father
-trying to piece the evidence back together to find traces of his father while the readers try to piece together the plot and characters
-style is criticized and admired, some say too unorthodox, others praise it as "improvisatory" and "schematic"
Language is a tool for expressing the many human states
Beginning of the novel is littered with ideas of "what if inanimate objects could speak"; conveys Oskar's own helplessness in communicating with others (projection)
Upon meeting Oskar, Grandpa begins to write more and more; he now WANTS to express himself
Theme Three: The Differing Uses of Language
Symbol #1: Letters
Symbol #2: Doorknobs
Time Period:
9/11:
September 11, 2001
terrorist attack by al Quaeda (Osama Bin Laden)
struck the World Trade Center, Pentagon, targeted DC but crashed in a field
killed nearly 3,000
in the novel, Oskar's
father died in WTC
Dresden:
February 13-15th,
1945
US and British
firebombings during
WWII
struck the capital of the German state of Saxony
22,000-25,000 killed
in the novel, Oskar's grandfather lives through it, and loses his first love, Anna
Parallels:
both Oskar and his grandfather lose loved ones
differences in coping mechanisms
Oskar
9 year old boy, lives with widowed mother
closer to his father
adventurous spirit
eccentric, has many hobbies
depression; "heavy boots"

“…sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all of the lives I’m not living.”
Thomas Schell Sr., p. 113
“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
Grandma to Oskar, p. 180

Distant throughout novel but always trying to help Oskar.
Tries to fill Father's Shoes
offers to read to him and check the New York Times for mistakes
Near end we learn she knew where Oskar was going and called in advance to ask them to treat him well.
She was trying to help him get over his fears and overcome his grief
She sees the bruises; she gets him into therapy; she talks with his Grandma about him
"You think because I laugh every now and then I don't
miss Dad?" (124-125)
Good father- tells Oskar thought-provoking fables about New York City's lost Sixth Borough and sends Oskar on fun chases through Central Park to help him get over Oskars hesitations with strangers.
Perished in the attacks of 09/11.
Dad's death fractures the Schell family
Oskar feels like he has to choose between Dad's memory or his Mom. He's torn between the two, and says:
"Every time I left our apartment to go searching for the lock, I became a little lighter, because I was getting closer to Dad. But I also became a little heavier, because I was getting farther from Mom." (3.41)
Survivors Guilt from his awful experience in Dresden
Most of his guilt centers around Anna (pregnant girlfriend) and the life he planned with her.
The guilt and pain lead him to a life of solitary, silent punishment, where unrealized possibilities torment him
He then later feels guilty about how he leaves Grandma when she becomes pregnant and the life he could have had with her.
Late he returns but she refuses to share her grief with him and won't let him meet Oskar
He wrote a letter for every day he wasn't with his child.
Grew up in Dresden and after the firebombing she married Thomas.
Thomas leaves after she breaks their deal and becomes pregnant.
This was one of many deals which helped Grandpa remain comfortable by staying emotionally distant (in the Nothing spaces)- and in the end she reconnects and they decide to stay in a nothing space.
She refuses to let him rejoin her life after he comes back after Thomas Jr.'s death- he can't even see Oskar
Oskar becomes the epicenter of her life after Thomas Jr.'s death.
Misc.
Ron
Anna
Boyfriend,
met during
grief group
Dead girlfriend
pregnant
Family
Interviewed
Aaron Black
First interviewed
Edmund Black
Dead father of
William Black- death
prompted him to sell
the vase
Abby and William Black
Abby
Woman whom he asked to kiss
Ex Wife of William Black
They talk about elephants: how they communicate, their memories, and the fact that they remember the voices of loved ones who have died. Kind of like Oskar.
Oskar gets "incredibly close" (5.32) to her at one point when talking about the key, and her husband shouts "extremely loudly" (5.18) from another room.
William Black
The man who sold the vase to Oskars father
Oskar eventually gives him back the key but refuses to see the safe deposit box it opens.
Returning the key gives Oskar no closure, but the journey helped him.
Mr. Black
strange very old fellow who joins Oskar on his search
Has bizarre habits and library of index cards that define people he has met or admired.

He also reveals Oskars ability to trust someone, which was entirely absent at the beginning of the novel.
Mr. Black has an eye patch lives in an appartment filled with dolls, seashells from Iceland, a samurai sword from Japan, and a bed made out of a tree. He is ancient, having "lived every day of the twentieth century!" (7.60) and everything he says ends in an exclamation point! He's shouting because of his hearing aid.
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