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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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    A. TITLE-EXPLANATION: write a short but founded explanation on the title of the book The title of the book revers to several things. First of all the words ‘extremely’ and ‘incredibly’ are used very often by the main character. Second of all there are various things in the book that are loud and close. The central event in de book is the attack on the Twin Towers. This attack has to have been experienced as extremely loud and incredibly close by the spectators and the people in the building. The war was loud and close to the grandma and grandfather of Oskar, the main character.

    Another thing in the book that can refer to extremely loud and incredibly close is the loss of a loved one. Oskar has lost his father, just like his mother lost her husband. This loss is extremely loud, it takes the overhand all the time. It’s also incredibly close, because they lost a person who was so deep in their heart. There is one passage where the words ‘extremely loud and incredibly close’ are actually used together in a sentence.

    This is when en bunch of birds flies past the window. B. AUTHOR INFORMATION: give the necessary biographical information of the author and add a supplementing website (i. . the author’s website) Jonathan Safran Foer was born in the splendid year of 1977, in Washington D. C. He was educated at Georgetown Day School, a private high school. Around this time, he wanted to be a brain surgeon, and one could argue that his fiction does indeed mess up your mind. He claims to have been the tallest person in his neighbourhood, yet he is apparently now of average height. Although brought up in all the trappings, he was never much moved by Jewish tradition, despite being drawn to the works of Jewish authors such as David Grossman, Phillip Roth and Bellow.

    When Jonathan was a child, he would visit his grandmother’s house, where he was would be hauled into the air for a hug upon arriving and leaving. Only later did he realise that his grandmother had been weighing rather than hugging him, an unconscious reflex action left over from the Holocaust. While at a summer camp aged 8, he was one of several victims of an explosion from a botched attempt to make sparklers. This caused some trauma for him that has affected his later writing. He went to Princeton as a philosophy major, where he looks to have won all the Writing Thesis Prizes.

    One of his teachers, and his mentor, was the novelist Joyce Carol Oates. He won the Zoetrope All Fiction Story Prize in 2000. Jonathan called on his professors for assistance as he sought entries from established writers for “Convergence of Birds” (2001), his homage to the dioramas of Joseph Cornell. It was in 1999 that he made his legendary trip to the Ukraine, on a mission to find the woman who saved his grandfather’s life during the Second World War. He did not find her, but he did discover a plague relating the destruction of the shetl of Trachimbrod, and the tale of a drowning in the Brod River.

    And so his first novel, “Everything is Illuminated”(2002), was born. It was a difficult birth, as 6 agents rejected it, and none of the publishers in New York were interested when it was first submitted. Although the novel’s main character was called “Jonathan Safran Foer”, his journey to the Ukraine only formed the foundations of the novel. It tells of Brod and Trachimbrod, the mad squire Sofiowka, the Kolker, the Wisps of Ardisht, Greenwich Shtetl, and many famous nightclubs. “The Very Rigid Search”,an extract from the novel, was published in “The New Yorker” in 2001. Everything is Illuminated” garnered a lot of praise, and Jonathan won The Guardian First Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and it was named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. The movie of the novel is due to be released in September 2005, and stars Elijah Wood. Jonathan’s second novel,“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, was released in 2005. It relates 9-year-old Oskar Schell’s reaction to the events of 9/11. 2005 also saw Jonathan writing a libretto for an opera called “Seven Attempted Escapes from Silence”, which premiered in Berlin in September.

    Jonathan’s brother, Franklin Foer, is a senior editor at The New Republic. Jonathan Safran Foer has made a short film called “If this is Kosher” against the slaughter practices of modern factory, which he considers to be outside of the spirit of the kosher laws. Jonathan Safran Foer lives in Brooklyn with a Great Dane called George, and his wife, the novelist Nicole Krauss. http://www. authortrek. com/jonathan_safran_foer_page. html C. SETTING: when and where does the story take place? Add, when possible, the exact location(s) The story starts a while after the 9/11 events, in 2001.

    In the book there are a lot of letters that describe events out of the past, like the second world war. These letters are written by the grandparents of Oskar. The story takes place in New York City. Oskar travels all over town. He goes to Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The litters that are written by Oskar’s grandparents describe events that happened in their hometown in Germany, Dresden. D. MAIN CHARACTER(S): describe all the main characters (looks, personality, nature) and the way they change throughout the story Oskar Schell

    Oskar is a 9 year old boy and he is the main character of the book. It’s a very intelligent boy and he is very wise for his age. He calls himself an inventor, jewellery designer, jewellery fabricator, amateur entomologist, Francophile, vegan, origamist, atheist and a pacifist. He has lost his father because of the 9/11 events. This has made a very big impact on him. Sometimes he has a hard time putting things in perspective, which gives him as he calls it ‘heavy boots’. I think the main character has the Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

    Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. Oskar has also his own unique way in communicating with people and he especially has difficulty relating and interacting with peers. The way in interacts with adults is quite touching because of his sincerity and the fact that he wants that people like him.

    Oskar can’t let the ‘worst day’ behind him. This is also because of the fact that when Oskar got home from school that day, his father had left several messages on the answering machine. After Oskar listened these messages his father called. Oskar couldn’t pick up and just stood next to the phone. He blames himself for not picking up and he feels like he let his father down. Oskar’s grandmother Oskar’s grandmother is a woman who is scarred by life. She has lost a lot of people in her life: her sister Anna and her parents because of the war and the man she loves leaves her.

    This makes her a very insecure woman and she is very attached to Oskar because of this. Oskar is the biggest love in her life and she sometimes is afraid of losing him. She regrets the way she lived her life and wishes she would get another chance. Then she would have used every moment of it and she would have done crazy things, like jumping on the bed and telling people her opinion. She has written her life story and shows this to her husband who only sees a bunch of blank papers. This is exactly her intention: her life has lived her instead of vice versa.

    Oskar’s grandfather Oskar’s grandfather is a man who has been traumatised by the war. He was heavily in love with Anna, Oskar’s grandmother’s sister, during the war and she was even pregnant of a child of his. Anna died because of a bombardment in the war. This has scarred Oskar’s grandfather for life. After a while the trauma that he had incurred because of the war came to expression. He started losing his power of speech, word by word. After a while he wasn’t able to speak any more and he wrote everything he wanted to say down in one of his diaries.

    Oskar’s grandfather and grandmother had an agreement on not having any children together. After a while Oskar’s grandmother does get pregnant and when she tells him, he goes away, back to his hometown. He goes away because he is afraid of losing somebody he loves ever again. Oskar’s mother Oskar has a lot of critic on his mother and is very harsh on her. He thinks she doesn’t cry enough for the loss of his dad. Also he’s angry at her because she spends a lot of time with a friend of hers, Ron. He forbids her to fall in love again and wants Ron out of their house. Later in the story, hen Ron is having dinner at their home, Ron tells Oskar that he and Oskar’s mom know each other from a group that is for people who lost a loved one. Ron lost his wife and daughter because of a car crash. This causes Oskar to have more sympathy for Ron and he tells his mother she can fall in love again. His mother tells him she will never be able to love somebody again and that night Oskar hears he cry for the first time in her bed. Thomas Schell Thomas Schell is Oskar’s father. Oskar’s father is dead during the time when the story is told. Oskar was very close to his dead and describes him in a heroic way.

    They shared a lot of interests and had the same way of thinking. Oskar loved every characteristic of his father and has a very hard time accepting his death. Oskar’s father ran the family jewellery business. Most of the characters in the book are connected with each other because of Oskar’s father. Mister Black Mister black is a neighbour of Oskar who lives above him. He hasn’t left his apartment ever since his wife died. He already is 103 years old. Oskar helps him putting on his hearing aid and Mister Black can hear the sounds of the world for the first time in years.

    This gives him a new boost in life and Mister Black will help searching for the lock together with Oskar. E. PLOT: describe, in short, what the story is about The story is about Oskar Schell, who has just lost his father. One day Oskar knocks over a vase in his father closet and finds a key in this vase. Oskar gets very curious about the purpose of this key. He sees that on the envelope where the key was in is written: Black. Oskar decides he will ask everyone with Black as last name in New York if they have something to do with the key.

    This quest is supposed to lead him to his father, but Oskar feels like he is only losing his father more and more. F. STRUCTURE: explain how the book is structured (chronologically, etc. ) The book is told in a chronological way. Between the storyline that takes place in the current time, there are letters, that tell about the past. There are also a lot of flashbacks because Oskar thinks a lot about the ‘worst day’ and how everything exactly happened or could have happened. G. NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE: which techniques does the writer use to tell his/her story?

    The story has three narrators: Oskar, his grandmother and his grandfather. They all tell in the first-person perspective. Oskar tells the story that takes place in the current time. Oskar’s grandparents tell their story through the letters they’ve written. H. THEME(S): give the main theme(s) of the book and write a short description on each theme The main theme of the book is loss. Oskar loses his father and this effects his being. The whole book is about Oskar trying to compensate the loss of his dad. Other people also have to deal with losing loved ones.

    Oskar’s grandparents had to lose Anna, their sister and lover. Mister Black misses his wife a lot, who also died. Oskar’s mother also has a hard time accepting the death of Thomas. Ron, her friend, also has to deal with the death of his family. And this way almost everyone in the book has lost someone. I. CLIMAX/TURNING POINT OF THE BOOK: describe the climax/turning point in the story and mention the according page(s) The turning point in the book is when Oskar finds the owner of the key. This is actually the ex-husband of someone Oskar interviewed at the beginning of his quest.

    Then the woman didn’t tell the key probably belonged to her husband because they were fighting and she didn’t think he deserved the key. The man tells the key belonged to a safe from his dad. His dad left him a letter after he died that told him that he thought the contents of that safe were supposed to be for him. He sold all his dad’s belongings before he read the letter, also the vase that contained the key. After this the man had been looking for the key but he could find the man who he had sold it to, Oskar’s father. Oskar is disappointed because the key will not lead him to his father, but to someone else’s father.

    This is described from page 292. J. SHORT SUMMARY: Give a short summary of the book or find a good summary on the internet Oskar is a highly intelligent 9-year old boy. He’s creates jewellery, creates fanciful inventions to keep people safe, speaks some French, corresponds with Stephen Hawking, plays the tambourine, and he’s both an atheist and a pacifist. Precocious children can be the death knell for a novel. They act more adult than childish and they often exist as nothing more than a metaphor for lost innocence, rather than having any real depth of character.

    Fortunately, Jonathan Safran Foer has created a character who is painfully real. Despite his intelligence that gives him a better understanding of the physical and historical aspects of the world, Oskar retains the emotions, confusion, and exasperation of a 9-year old. Oskar lives with his mom and his grandmother lives across the street. Mom has a new friend, Ron, whom Oskar has disliked from the start. He doesn’t think it’s right for his mother to be laughing and playing board games with another man so soon after his father’s death. Oskar tells of when Ron offered to buy him a set of drums:

    Money can’t buy me love, obviously, but I asked if it would have Zildjian cymbals. He said, “Whatever you want,” and then he took my yo-yo off my desk and started to walk the dog with it. I know he just wanted to be friendly, but it made me incredibly angry. “Yo-yo, moi! I told him, grabbing it back. What I really wanted to tell him was, “You’re not my dad, and you never will be. ” Oskar has heavy boots, as he calls feeling down, because he carries a secret he hasn’t shared with anybody else. He was sent home from school soon after the attacks on 9/11 and was the first one home.

    There he found five messages from his father calling from one of the World Trade Towers on the answering machine, and he replaced the phone and kept the messages to himself. He likes to be in his father’s closet because “it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he touched. ” He finds a vase on the highest shelf of the closet, and inside the vase he finds a key in an envelope. The only thing written on the envelope is “Black. ” This key sets Oskar off on a quest to find the story behind it, to find the secret that his father kept, in hopes that it would help him understand his dad better.

    He computes how many keys and how many locks there must be in New York City, and decides that “Black” must be somebody’s last name. Starting with the top of the alphabet for all the Blacks in the phonebook, he then sets out every weekend to visit them in order and see if they know anything about his father or the key. Most of the people he visits also seem to be dealing with some sort of loss in their lives, and Oskar is often at a loss how to interact with them. He finds a Mr. Black in his own building, a 103-year old war reporter who hasn’t left his apartment or heard anything since his wife died.

    He is so taken by Oskar’s quest that he agrees to accompany him on his journeys across town. Mr. Black tells Oskar, “It’s not a horrible world . . . but it’s filled with a lot of horrible people. ” Eventually Oskar is aided by the mysterious tenant in his grandmother’s apartment, and Oskar convinces him to help dig up his father’s empty casket. In addition to Oskar telling his story of the search for the secret of the key, the letters from Oskar’s grandparents tell their story, and how it all led to this point in Oskar’s life. His grandfather, also Thomas Schell, was a teenager in Dresden during World War II.

    He fell in love with a girl named Anna, and after the firebombing of Dresden, he’d lost Anna, all of his family, and the ability to speak. He has the words “Yes” and “No” tattooed on his hands, so he can answer questions by showing the appropriate hand. He writes messages for conversation, often pointing to the same sentences over and over. He’s spent his life writing, trying to explain himself and why he is who he is. Oskar’s grandmother was Anna’s sister, and the only family member to survive the firebombing. When she came across Thomas Schell in New York, she knew she had to marry him as a way to maintain a grip on her past.

    She also knew that he married her only as a replacement for Anna. Their life together was odd, with a set of rules governing behavior and interactions between them. It was their way to survive their losses and grasp at what they could offer each other. When she became pregnant, Oskar’s grandfather left and returned to Germany, never knowing his son. Oskar’s grandmother’s letters are touching and poignant. Her life has been one of continual loss. She lost her family in Dresden, her husband when he left, and then her son in the terrorist attacks.

    She’s close to Oskar, and is the most accepting survivor in the book. She’s not exactly happy, but she knows she’ll carry on whatever life has in store for her. Oskar’s grandfather’s letters are the most gimmicky in the novel. Some pages are blank, others have one sentence each that he uses for conversation, other pages have text overlapping each other, and there are three pages of numbers as he attempts to communicate via a touch-tone phone. His life was one of energy and hope before the firebombing, and a numbed survival at best since.

    His character, though, suffers from the same problem. His story of life before the tragedy that took his loved ones brims with this energy and hope, then runs stale and uninteresting for all the chapters after it. He never really comes alive, and is perhaps the one major person in the book that is more a metaphor than a fleshed-out character. Oskar’s grandparents’ story obviously serves to connect the disasters together, including all the disasters that happened between them. Oskar’s loss of his father is just one in an epidemic of tragedies that afflict the world.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close might have been a more focused and powerful story if it had only concentrated on Oskar’s story. It is Oskar’s chapters that are engrossing and painful as he goes in search of his father’s secret, hoping to learn more about his father so he can be closer to him even in death. His confusion, anger, and misunderstanding of the world stay at the 9-year old level. He can be exasperating and difficult, as when he tells his mom that if he’d had a choice, he’d have chosen her to be in the towers that day instead of his dad.

    His intelligence, curiosity, fears, and insights he gains on his quest throughout the city are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. http://www. reviewsofbooks. com/extremely_loud_and_incredibly_close/review/ K. OPINION/JUDGMENT: give your detailed and well-argumented view of the book I found the book heart-warming but at some points is also made me really sad. The story is written very realistic and although I have never experienced something so traumatising I could relate to the main characters.

    Their responses to the loss of someone they cared for very deeply are all different, but all understanding. Oskar’s mother is trying to stay strong for Oskar, which he interprets as a lack of love for his dad. Oskar is a very smart little boy and you feel for him because he is so fanatic in finding the key. There is such a small chance of finding the key and the key being actually meaning full which gives a melancholic ambiance to his quest. Oskar’s grandmother also touched me very much. She is such a fragile lady and she has such a lack of confidence.

    The part where Oskar’s grandmother visits the play, Hamlet, where Oskar has a very small part in was very moving. She cried and laughed at the wrong times and Oskar’s classmates made fun of her, which caused that I really felt for her because she has been through so much and she tries so hard to be there for Oskar. I can really recommend this book to other classmates because it’s written in a way that you really get involved in the story and it’s reads easy, also because of the illustrations between the storyline.

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