Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Mti a Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer PDF - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Foer takes on death, love, sex, pain, . Click PDF Full-Text link to view article. Click “PDF Full Text” link to.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Dutch|
|Genre:||Children & Youth|
|ePub File Size:||20.45 MB|
|PDF File Size:||12.70 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Regsitration Required]|
JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER EXTREMLY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE Contents Self-defense was something that I was extremely curious about, for obvious. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Read more · Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close · Read more · Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel. Read more. PETER ROBINSON CLOSE TO HOME A NOVEL OF SUSPENSE For Sheila The glory dropped from their youth and love, And both.
Tooth- paste told me he'd call to let me know whether I was going to watch him attempt skate- boarding tricks in the park, or if we were going to go look at Playboy magazines in the drugstore with the aisles where no one can see what you're looking at, which I didn't feel like doing, but still. I laminated Ringo's letter and tacked it to my wall. Here is the letter you asked for. Anna asks her sister not to tell anybody that she and Thomas had kissed behind their parents shed. The bracelet itself is not only the haptic proof of Oskar's feeling of guilt, ot also makes his grief and the secret he buried deep inside of him concrete. However, after their first meeting in the United States, Grandmother Schell's guilt and the feeling of being left alone for a second time seem to become unbearable for her.
I put my hands into the pockets of all of his jackets I found a receipt for a cab, a wrapper from a miniature Krackle, and the business card of a diamond supplier. I put my feet into his slippers. I looked at myself in his metal shoehorn. The average person falls asleep in seven minutes, but I couldn't sleep, not after hours, and it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he had touched, and to make the hangers hang a little straighter, even though I knew it didn't matter.
His tuxedo was over the chair he used to sit on when he tied his shoes, and I thought. Why wasn't it hung up with his suits? Had he come from a fancy party the night 17 before he died? But then why would he have taken off his tuxedo without hanging it up? Maybe it needed to be cleaned? But I didn't remember a fancy party. I remembered him tucking me in, and us listening to a person speaking Greek on the shortwave radio, and him telling me a story about New York's sixth borough.
If I hadn't noticed anything else weird, I wouldn't have thought about the tuxedo again. But I started noticing a lot. There was a pretty blue vase on the highest shelf. What was a pretty blue vase doing way up there? I couldn't reach it, obviously, so I moved over the chair with the tuxedo still on it, and then I went to my room to get the Collected Shakespeare set that Grandma bought for me when she found out that I was going to be Yorick, and I brought those over, four tragedies at a time, until I had a stack that was tall enough.
I stood on all of that and it worked for a second. But then I had the tips of my fingers on the vase, and the tragedies started to wobble, and the tuxedo was incredibly distracting, and the next thing was that everything was on the floor, including me, and including the vase, which had shattered. I zipped myself all the way into the sleeping bag of my- self, not because I was hurt, and not because I had broken something, but because they were cracking up. Even though I knew I shouldn't, I gave myself a bruise.
I started to clean everything up, and that was when I noticed something else weird. In the middle of all of that glass was a little envelope, about the size of a wireless Internet card. I opened it up, and inside there was a key. What the, What the? It was a weird-looking key, obviously to something extremely important, because it was fatter and shorter than a normal key. I couldn't explain it: The first thing I did was the logical thing, which was to be very secretive and try the key in all of the locks in the apartment.
Even without trying I knew it wasn't for the front door, because it didn't match up with the key that I wear on a string around my neck to let my- self in when nobody's home. I tiptoed so I wouldn't be noticed, and I tried the key in the door to the bathroom, and the different bedroom doors, and the drawers in Mom's dresser. I tried it in the desk in the kitchen where Dad used to pay the bills, and in the closet next to the linen closet where I sometimes hid when we played hide and seek, and in Mom's jewelry box.
But it wasn't for any of them. In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots.
And when something really terrible happened - like a nu- clear bomb, or at least a biological weapons attack - an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir. The next morning I told Mom that I couldn't go to school, because I was too sick. It was the first lie that I had to tell. She put her hand on my forehead and said, 'You do feel a bit hot. She turned around and asked me to zip up the back of her dress, which she could 18 have done herself, but she knew that I loved to do it.
She said, 'I'll be in and out of meet- ings all day, but Grandma can come by if you need anything, and I'll call to check on you every hour. Stan was sweeping up in front of the building. I tried to get past him without him noticing, but he noticed. I told him, 'I feel sick. Feeling Sick going? Where I actually went was the locksmith's store, which is Frazer and Sons, on Seventy-ninth. I gave him a high-five, and I showed him the key that I had found, and asked him what he could tell me about it.
You can tell it's for a lockbox by its build. It's much thicker. Harder to break. Nothing too big. Maybe something portable. Could be a safe-deposit box, actually.
An old one. Or some kind of fire-retardant cabinet. It's all electronic these days. Thumbprint rec- ognition. We're useful now, but soon we'll be interesting. Go ahead. My grandfather started the shop. I guess I'm Frazer, too, since my son works here during the summers. I could always make you a copy, if you'd like. Martin Luther King Jr. When I got back to the apartment, Stan said, 'You've got mail!
Thanks for your glorious letter and the bulletproof drumsticks, which I hope I'll never have to use! I have to confess. I hope you like the enclosed T-shirt, which I took the liberty of signing for you. Your mate, Ringo I didn't like the enclosed T-shirt. I loved it!
Although unfortunately it wasn't white, so I couldn't wear it. I laminated Ringo's letter and tacked it to my wall. Then I did some research on the Inter- net about the locks of New York, and I found out a lot of useful information. For example, there are post offices and , post office boxes. Each box has a lock, obviously. I also found out that there are about 70, hotel rooms, and most rooms have a main lock, a bathroom lock, a closet lock, and a lock to the mini-bar.
I didn't know what a mini-bar was, so I called the Plaza Hotel, which I knew was a famous one, and asked. Then I knew what a mini-bar was. There are more than , cars in New York, which doesn't even count the 12, cabs and 4, buses. Also, I remembered from when I used to take the 20 subway that the conductors used keys to open and close the doors, so there were those, too.
More than 9 million people live in New York a baby is born in New York every 50 seconds , and everyone has to live somewhere, and most apartments have two locks on the front, and to at least some of the bathrooms, and maybe to some other rooms, and ob- viously to dressers and jewelry boxes. Also there are offices, and art studios, and storage facilities, and banks with safe-deposit boxes, and gates to yards, and parking lots.
I figured that if you included everything - from bicycle locks to roof latches to places for cufflinks - there are probably about 18 locks for every person in New York City, which would mean about million locks, which is a crevasse-load of locks. I guessActACA! Then I figured out that if a baby is born in New York every 50 seconds, and each person has 18 locks, a new lock is created in New York every 2.
So even if all I did was open locks. I'd still be falling be- hind by. And that's if I didn't have to travel from one lock to the next, and if I didn't eat, and didn't sleep, which is an OK if, because I didn't actually sleep, anyway.
I needed a better plan. That night, I put on my white gloves, went to the garbage can in Dad's closet, and opened the bag that I'd thrown all of the pieces of the vase into. I was looking for clues that might lead me in a direction. I had to be extremely careful so that I wouldn't contaminate the evidence, or let Mom know what I was doing, or cut and infect myself, and I found the envelope that the key was in.
It was then that I noticed something that a good detective would have noticed at the very beginning: I was so mad at myself for not noticing it before that I gave myself a little bruise. Dad's handwriting was weird. It looked sloppy, like he was writing in a hurry, or writing down the word while he was on the phone, or just thinking about something else. So what would he have been thinking about? I Googled around and found out that Black wasn't the name of a company that made lock- boxes.
I got a little disappointed, because it would have been a logical explanation, which is always the best kind, although fortunately it isn't the only kind. Then I found out that there was a place called Black in every state in the country, and actually in almost every country in the world.
In France, for example, there is a place called Noir. So that wasn't very helpful. I did a few other searches, even though I knew they would only hurt me, be- cause I couldn't help it. I printed out some of the pictures I found - a shark attacking a girl, someone walking on a tightrope between the Twin Towers, that actress getting a blowjob from her normal boyfriend, a soldier getting his head cut off in Iraq, the place on the wall where a famous stolen painting used to hang - and I put them in Stuff That Happened to Me, my scrap-book of everything that happened to me.
The next morning I told Mom I couldn't go to school again. She asked what was wrong. I told her, 'The same thing that's always wrong. Grandma's coupons, storage facilities, people who don't know what the Internet is, bad handwriting, beautiful songs, how there won't be humans in fifty years - ' 'Who said there won't be humans in fifty years?
Or everything is so-and-so. Or obviously. It comes from 'definite. Do I do that a lot? It makes me feel weird, because they're gone. And it also makes me feel unspecial. You know you're the most spe- cial thing to us, don't you? I asked if I could zip her dress up again. She said, 'Sure,' and turned around. She said, 'I think it would be good if you tried to go to school. Fein said I should listen to my feelings. Fie said I should give myself a break sometimes.
When she put her hand on the covers, she must have felt how puffy they were, because she asked if I had my clothes on in bed. I told her, 'I do, and the reason is because I am cold. I told him to mind his own business. Fie said, 'Jeez. She said, 'I know. What can I do for you?
I told her, 'You could be a movie star. I wanted to know what she could tell me about black, since she was probably an ex- pert of color. But one thing I 23 can say is it's sort of interesting that the person wrote the word 'black' in red pen.
It's just one of those psychological things, I guess. I'd probably write the word 'blue. It doesn't come naturally. She was right, it didn't feel natural at all, because part of me wanted to say the name of the color, and part of me wanted to say what was written.
In the end I didn't say anything. I asked her what she thought it meant. But look, when someone tests a pen, usually he either writes the name of the color he's writing with, or his name. So the fact that 'Black' is written in red makes me think that Black is someone's name. You wouldn't usually capitalize the first letter of a color. I need to find Black!
I flipped back through the pad of paper while I thought about what Stephen Hawking would do next. I ripped the last sheet from the pad and ran to find the manager again. She was helping somebody with paintbrushes, but I thought it wouldn't be rude to interrupt her. I told her, "The only thing is, he didn't buy art supplies. That way I could prove if he had been buying art supplies or just testing out pens to buy a pen.
I couldn't believe what I found. His name was everywhere. He'd tested out markers and oil sticks and colored pencils and chalk and pens and pastels and watercolors. He'd even scratched his name into a piece of moldable plastic, and I found a sculpting knife with yellow on its end, so I knew that was what he did it with. It was as if he was planning on making the biggest art project in his- tory. But I didn't get it: I found the manager again. She turned to me.
I said, 'You said if there was anything else you could help me with, that I should just let you know. Well, I need to see all of the store's receipts. I told her, 'I bruise easily. Because I'm in the ba throom A J: Like in half an hour? How long have those pads been by the displays? That would be a long time, right? There were different addresses, because some of the Blacks lived together, obviously. I calculated that if I went to two every Saturday, which seemed possible, plus holidays, minus Hamlet rehearsals and other stuff, like mineral and coin conventions, it would take me about three years to go through all of them.
But I couldn't survive three years without knowing. I wrote a letter. Cher Marcel, Alio. I am Oskar's mom. I have thought about it a lot, and I have decided that it isn't obvious why Oskar should go to French lessons, so he will no longer be going to go to see you on Sundays like he used to. I want to thank you very much for every- thing you have taught Oskar, particularly the conditional tense, which is weird. Obviously, there's no need to call me when Oskar doesn't come to his lessons, be- cause I already know, because this was my decision.
Also, I will keep sending you checks, because you are a nice guy. Votre amie devouee, Mademoiselle Schell That was my great plan. I would spend my Saturdays and Sundays finding all of the peo- ple named Black and learning what they knew about the key in the vase in Dad's closet.
In a year and a half I would know everything. Or at least know that I had to come up with a new plan. Of course I wanted to talk to Mom that night I decided to go hunting for the lock, but I couldn't. It's not that I thought I would get in trouble for snooping around, or that I was afraid she'd be angry about the vase, or even that I was angry at her for spending so much time laughing with Ron when she should have been adding to the Reservoir of Tears.
I can't explain why, but I was sure that she didn't know about the vase, the envelope, or the key. The lock was between me and Dad. So for those eight months when I went looking around New York, and she would ask where I was going and when I'd be back, I would just say, 'I'm going out.
I'll be back later. She had bought me the cell phone so we could always find each other, and had told me to take cabs instead of the subway. She had even taken me to the police station to be fingerprinted, which was great. So why was she suddenly starting to forget about me? 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.
In bed that night, I couldn't stop thinking about the key, and how every 2. I pulled Stuff That Happened to Me from the space be- tween the bed and the wall, and I flipped through it for a while, wishing that I would fi- nally fall asleep. After forever, I got out of bed and went to the closet where I kept the phone. I hadn't taken it out since the worst day. It just wasn't possible. A lot of the time I think about those four and a half minutes between when I came home and when Dad called.
Stan touched my face, which he never did. I took the elevator for the last time. I opened the apartment door, put down my bag, and took off my shoes, like eve- rything was wonderful, because I didn't know that in reality everything was actually hor- rible, because how could I? I petted Buckminster to show him I loved him. I went to the phone to check the messages, and listened to them one after another. Message one: Message two: Message three: Message four: Message five: I thought about calling Mom.
I thought about grabbing my walkie-talkie and paging Grandma. I went back to the first message and listened to them all again. I looked at my watch. I thought about hiding under my bed. I thought about rushing downtown to see if I could somehow rescue him myself.
And then the phone rang. I knew I could never let Mom hear the messages, because protecting her is one of my most important raisons d'etre, so what I did was I took Dad's emergency money from on top of his dresser, and I went to the Radio Shack on Amsterdam. It was on a TV there that I saw that the first building had fallen. I bought the exact same phone and ran home and re- corded our greeting from the first phone onto it. I wrapped up the old phone in the scarf that Grandma was never able to finish because of my privacy, and I put that in a grocery bag, and I put that in a box, and I put that in another box, and I put that under a bunch of stuff in my closet, like my jewelry workbench and albums of foreign currencies.
That night when I decided that finding the lock was my ultimate raison d'etre - the raison that was the master over all other raisons - 1 really needed to hear him. I was extremely careful not to make any noise as I took the phone out of all of its protec- tions. Even though the volume was way down, so Dad's voice wouldn't wake Mom, he still filled the room, like how a light fills a room even when it's dim. It's me again. Are you there? Sorry if. It's getting a bit. I was hoping you would.
I don't know if you've heard about what's happened. Just wanted you to know that I'm OK. When you get this, give Grandma a call.
Let her know that I'm OK. I'll call again in a few minutes. Hope- fully the firemen will be up here by then. I'll call. I wrapped the phone back up in the unfinished scarf, and put that back in the bag, and put that back in the box, and that in the other box, and all of that in the closet under lots of junk.
I stared at the fake stars forever. I invented. I gave myself a bruise. I got out of bed, went over to the window, and picked up the walkie-talkie. Grandma, do you read me? What's happened? He had to go run some er- rands. He was constantly running errands, or taking a nap, or in the shower, even when I didn't hear any water.
Mom told me, 'It probably gets pretty lonely to be Grandma, don't you think? But you have school to go to, and friends to hang out with, and Hamlet rehearsals, and hobby shops - ' 'Please don't call them hobby shops. And maybe she wants a friend her own age. I'm talking about Grandma.
I'm not. And I don't appreciate that tone.
What's wrong with that? We're on the fifth floor and she's on the third, but you can't really tell the difference. Sometimes she'll write notes for me on her window, which I can see through my binoculars, and once Dad and I spent a whole after- noon trying to design a paper airplane that we could throw from our apartment into hers.
Stan stood in the street, collecting all of the failed attempts. I remember one of the notes she wrote right after Dad died was 'Don't go away. Everyone's always rushing at the end, and sometimes even burning their fingers. So what if pockets were a lot bigger? It would be sort of like a sock, but with a Velcro outside, so you could attach it to 29 anything.
It's not quite a bag, because it actually becomes part of what you're wearing, but it's not quite a pocket either, because it's on the outside of your clothes, and also you can remove it, which would have all sorts of advantages, like how you could move things from one outfit to another easily, and how you could carry bigger things around, since you can take the pocket off and reach your arm all the way in. And why are candy bars so short, anyway? I mean, have you ever finished a candy bar and not wanted more?
That secret was a hole in the middle of me that every happy thing fell into. And what about how his hands were so rough and red from all of his sculptures that sometimes I joked to him that it was really the sculptures that were sculpting his hands?
But you can tell me again if you want. An ambulance drove down the street between us, and I imagined who it was carrying, and what had happened to him. Did he break an ankle attempting a hard trick on his skate- board? Or maybe he was dying from third-degree burns on ninety percent of his body? Was there any chance that I knew him? Did anyone see the ambulance and wonder if it was me inside?
What about a device that knew everyone you knew? And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved them, so if the device of the person in the ambulance detected the device of the person he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and might even die, the ambulance could flash GOODBYE!
One thing that's nice to think about is someone who was the first person on lots of peo- ple's lists, so that when he was dying, and his ambulance went down the streets to the hospital, the whole time it would flash GOODBYE!
He had to leave. I brought it to the window and took a picture of her window. The flash lit up the street between us.
Walt 9. Lindy 8. Alida Grandma said, 'I hope you never love anything as much as I love you. Parley 6. Stan I could hear her kissing her fingers and then blowing. Buckminster 3. Mom I blew her a kiss back.
Grandma 'Over and out,' one of us said. Dad We need much bigger pockets, I thought as I lay in bed, counting off the seven minutes that it takes a normal person to fall asleep. We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families, and our friends, and even the people who aren't on our lists, peo- ple we've never met but still want to protect.
We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe. But I knew that there couldn't be pockets that enormous. In the end, everyone loses every- one. There was no invention to get around that, and so I felt, that night, like the turtle that everything else in the universe was on top of.
As for me, I was awake for hours and hours. Buckminster curled up next to me, and I con- jugated for a while so I wouldn't have to think about things.
I have so much to say to you. I want to begin at the beginning, because that is what you deserve. I want to tell you everything, without leaving out a single detail. But where is the beginning? And what is everything? I am an old woman now, but once I was a girl. It's true. I was a girl like you are a boy. One of my chores was to bring in the mail.
One day there was a note addressed to our house. There was no name on it. It was mine as much as anyone's, I thought. I opened it. Many words had been removed from the text by a censor. I have chosen to write to you without knowing who you are. I trade bread for postage, but have not yet received a response. Sometimes it comforts me to think that they do not mail the letters we write.
Please include a picture of yourself as well as your name. Include everything. With great hopes. I put it under my mattress. I never told my father or mother about it. For weeks I was awake all night wondering. Why was this man sent to a 33 Turkish labor camp? Why had the letter come fifteen years after it had been written? Where had it been for those fifteen years? Why hadn't anyone written back to him? The others got mail, he said. Why had he sent a letter to our house?
How did he know the name of my street?
How did he know of Dresden? Where did he learn German? What be- came of him? I tried to learn as much about the man as I could from the letter. The words were very simple. Bread means only bread. Mail is mail. Great hopes are great hopes are great hopes. I was left with the handwriting. So I asked my father, your great-grandfather, whom I considered the best, most kind- hearted man I knew, to write a letter to me.
I told him it didn't matter what he wrote about. Just write, I said. Write anything. Darling, You asked me to write you a letter, so I am writing you a letter. I do not know why I am writing this letter, or what this letter is supposed to be about, but I am writing it nonetheless, because I love you very much and trust that you have some good purpose for having me write this letter. I hope that one day you will have the ex- perience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.
Your father That letter is the only thing of my father's that I have left. Not even a picture. Next I went to the penitentiary.
My uncle was a guard there. I was able to get the hand- writing sample of a murderer. My uncle asked him to write an appeal for early release. It was a terrible trick that we played on this man. To the Prison Board: My name is Kurt Schluter.
I am Inmate I don't know how long it's been. We don't have calendars. I keep lines on the wall with chalk. But when it rains, the rain comes through my window when I am sleep- ing. And when I wake up the lines are gone.
So I don't know how long it's been. I murdered my brother. I beat his head in with a shovel. Then after I used that shovel to bury him in the yard. The soil was red. Weeds came from the grass where his body was. Sometimes at night I would get on my knees and pull them out, so no one would know. I did a terrible thing. I believe in the afterlife. I know that you can't take anything back. I wish that my days could be washed away like the chalk lines of my days. I have tried to become a good person.
I help the other inmates with their chores. I am patient now.
It might not matter to you, but my brother was having an affair with my wife. I didn't kill my wife. I want to go back to her, because I forgive her. If you release me I will be a good person, quiet, out of the way.
Please consider my appeal. Kurt Schluter, Inmate My uncle later told me that the inmate had been in prison for more than forty years.
He had gone in as a young man. When he wrote the letter to me he was old and broken. His 34 wife had remarried. She had children and grandchildren. Although he never said it, I could tell that my uncle had befriended the inmate. He had also lost a wife, and was also in a prison.
He never said it, but I heard in his voice that he cared for the inmate. They guarded each other. And when I asked my uncle, several years later, what became of the inmate, my uncle told me that he was still there. He continued to write letters to the board. He continued to blame himself and forgive his wife, not knowing that there was no one on the other end. My uncle took each letter and promised the inmate that they would be de- livered.
But instead he kept them all. They filled all of the drawers in his dresser. I remem- ber thinking it's enough to drive someone to kill himself. I was right. My uncle, your great- great-uncle, killed himself. Of course it's possible that the inmate had nothing to do with it. With those three samples I could make comparisons. I could at least see that the forced laborer's handwriting was more like my father's than the murderer's.
But I knew that I would need more letters. As many as I could get. So I went to my piano teacher. I always wanted to kiss him, but was afraid he would laugh at me. I asked him to write a letter. And then I asked my mother's sister. She loved dance but hated dancing. I asked my schoolmate Mary to write a letter to me. She was funny and full of life. She liked to run around her empty house without any clothes on, even once she was too old for that. Nothing embarrassed her.
I admired that so much, because everything embar- rassed me, and that hurt me. She loved to jump on her bed. She jumped on her bed for so many years that one afternoon, while I watched her jump, the seams burst.
Feathers filled the small room. Our laughter kept the feathers in the air. I thought about birds. Could they fly if there wasn't someone, somewhere, laughing? I went to my grandmother, your great-great-grandmother, and asked her to write a letter.
She was my mother's mother. Your father's mother's mother's mother. I hardly knew her. I didn't have any interest in knowing her. I have no need for the past, I thought, like a child. I did not consider that the past might have a need for me. What kind of letter? I told her to write whatever she wanted to write. You want a letter from me? I told her yes. Oh, God bless you, she said. The letter she gave me was sixty-seven pages long. It was the story of her life.
She made my request into her own. Listen to me. I learned so much. She sang in her youth. She had been to America as a girl. I never knew that. She had fallen in love so many times that she began to suspect she was not falling in love at all, but doing something much more ordi- nary.
I learned that she never learned to swim, and for that reason she always loved rivers and lakes. She asked her father, my great-grandfather, your great-great-great-grandfather, to buy her a dove. Instead he bought her a silk scarf. So she thought of the scarf as a dove. She even convinced herself that it contained flight, but did not fly, because it did not want to show anyone what it really was.
That was how much she loved her father. The letter was destroyed, but its final paragraph is inside of me. She wrote: I wish I could be a girl again, with the chance to live my life again. I have suffered so much more than I needed to. And the joys I have felt have not always been joy- ous. I could have lived differently. When I was your age, my grandfather bought me a ruby bracelet. It was too big for me and would slide up and down my arm. It 35 was almost a necklace. He later told me that he had asked the jeweler to make it that way.
Its size was supposed to be a symbol of his love. More rubies, more love. But I could not wear it comfortably. I could not wear it at all. So here is the point of everything I have been trying to say. If I were to give a bracelet to you, now, I would measure your wrist twice. With love. Your grandmother I had a letter from everyone I knew. I laid them out on my bedroom floor, and organized them by what they shared.
One hundred letters. I was always moving them around, trying to make connections. I wanted to understand. Seven years later, a childhood friend reappeared at the moment I most needed him. I had been in America for only two months. An agency was supporting me, but soon I would have to support myself. I did not know how to support myself. I read newspapers and magazines all day long.
I wanted to learn idioms. I wanted to become a real American. Chew the fat. Blow off some steam. Close but no cigar. Rings a bell. I must have sounded ridiculous. I only wanted to be natural. I gave up on that. I had not seen him since I lost everything. I had not thought of him. He and my older sis- ter, Anna, were friends. I came upon them kissing one afternoon in the field behind the shed behind our house.
It made me so excited. I felt as if I were kissing someone. I had never kissed anyone. I was more excited than if it had been me. Our house was small. Anna and I shared a bed. That night I told her what I had seen. She made me promise never to speak a word about it.
I promised her. She said. Why should I believe you? I wanted to tell her. Because what I saw would no longer be mine if I talked about it. I said. Because I am your sister. Thank you. Can I watch you kiss? Can you watch us kiss? You could tell me where you are going to kiss, and I could hide and watch. She laughed enough to migrate an entire flock of birds. That was how she said yes.
Sometimes it was in the field behind the shed behind our house. Sometimes it was behind the brick wall in the schoolyard. It was always behind something. I wondered if she told him. I wondered if she could feel me watching them, if that made it more exciting for her. Why did I ask to watch? Why did she agree? I had gone to him when I was trying to learn more about the forced laborer.
I had gone to everyone. To Anna's sweet little sister. Here is the letter you asked for. I am almost two meters in height. My eyes are brown. I have been told that my hands are big. It additionally highlights an important psychological aspect of trauma to the reader, namely lethargy.
Even though Oskar responds to his trainer's questions positively by telling him that he wants to know everything about jujitsu, his distracted thoughts reveal that he really thinks about his burst dream: Oskar does not want to run his family's jewellery business in the future.
This situation is an example of the protagonist's recurring attitude of not caring about anything at all. In this context the respond: Oskar's respond also shows that his infantile curiousness has suffered from his father's death as well. It is not only Oskar's curiousness that has suffered from his trauma. Oskar's infant joy 2 Note: In this connection, it is striking that the boy uses a recurring term to describe his state of mind.
Oskar states more than 15 times troughout the whole novel that he is in ''heavy boots'', which is even the title of a whole chapter which shall be discussed later at greater detail. Oskar uses this metaphor maybe unconsciously to play down the extent of his traumatization.
Foer 86 My boots were so heavy that I was glad there was a column underneath us Foer However, Oskar's ''heavy boots'' seem to be caused by multiple factors, fear and grief being just two of them. He later reveals to the reader that the fact that his father was ''[j]ust an ordinary dad, and not a ''Great Man'' gives him ''heavy, heavy boots'' see Foer This quote shows another aspect of the boy's trauma, namely the fear that the death of his father could be regarded as something ordinary.
From an ''objective'' point of view, Thomas Schell is just one of over victims, but it is clear that Oskar does not want his father's death to be trivialized. For Oskar, his father's life and his death are something unique and special. However, the book also presents that the Oskar feels that his father's death forces him to feel bad.
This becomes clear before one of his therapy sessions: I didn't understand why I needed help, because it seemed to me that you should wear heavy boots when your dad dies, and if you aren't wearing heavy boots, then you need help. Foer The passage presented shows that Oskar deeply believes that he must not feel any better, even after years of the traumatic event.
It seems impossible for him not to mourn. Oskar even indirectly criticizes people who do not feel the way he feels. The boy's reaction underlines his survivor guilt.
Oskar believes that his unsuccessful journey shows that he has not loved his father enough see Foer His search for the lock can be seen as his attempt to finally get rid of the impact of his trauma, that weighs not only on his shoulders, but especially on his feet. His guilt stuns him like a shackle which can only be broken by finding the lock. When he finally finds out that the key he found in his father's closed has played no significant role in the unravelling of his father's life or death, and maybe in his own trauma, Oskar's dream to solve his problems seems to be shattered: I didn't know what to say.
I found it and now I can stop looking? I found it and it had nothing to do with Dad? I found it and now I'll wear heavy boots for the rest of my life? Foer The passage presented ultimately shows Oskar's fear of remaining restless and caught in a repetitive behavior for the rest of his live.
The boy has hoped that finding out about the last hours of his father, or even his death, would cure him from his trauma and his guilt, metaphorically expressed through the image of Oskar's ''heavy boots''.
Even if Oskar has not reached his goal through the search for the key itself, his quest has not been not futile. This aspect, however, shall be discussed at a later point of this thesis. Coming back to the beginning of the novel, Foer presents his child protagonist as somewhat isolated.
The fact that Oskar has no close friends and is being bullied at school enhances this notion. The author's rather explicit reference to a very famous character sharing the same name as his protagonist enhances this notion: I desperately wished I had my tambourine with me now, because even after everything I'm still wearing heavy boots, and sometimes it helps to play a good beat Foer 2 A detailed comparison to Grass' Oskar at this point and would burst the frame of this paper.
Yet an important aspect elicited from the comparison has to be highlighted: Oskar Shell is by no means a modern Oskar Mazerath. While Grass' character uses his instrument, namely the tin drum, to disturb, a tambourine is a way more pleasant sounding instrument, closely connected to arts.
Oskar Schell's instrument clearly serves as a therapeutic function. Striking the tambourine and creating a tact can be seen as Oskar's desperate attempt to calm himself down by giving himself the rhythm he has lost after his father's death.
It distracts him from the negative side of being a thinker, namely overthinking. Oskar's urge to invent things is clearly a realization of his trauma. He states that ''[b]eing with him [his father] made my brain quiet. I didn't have to invent a thing'' Foer Nevertheless, Oskar cannot always run away from what happened. Holderegger states in this context, that people suffering from trauma suffer from the constant repetition of the traumatic event see There were four more messages from him [ It was Oskar does not know how to cope with the situation and therefore listens to his father's last messages over and over again.
His helplessness eventually finds its climax when he is unable to pick up the phone to talk to his father. He decides to hide the answering machine instead, buys the exact same model, so his mother would not notice, and does not tell anybody about the calls.
In this context, Zemanek states that Oskar's pain is intensified by his feelings of guilt since he does not share his father's last calls, including the ultimate one, in which he said goodbye to his family Yet she misses an important fact: Keeping his father's last calls a secret does not only intensify his pain.
It is its main source. Thomas Schell's death hit his son hard, with no doubt, but if Oskar had not listened to his father's voice mail on the answering machine his father's death would have been more abstract to him.
Oskar is not a direct victim of the terrorist attacks, since he has not actually been in or at the World Trade Center. Without the calls and the eventual guilt Oskar imposes on himself, Thomas Schell simply would have been gone forever, which of course still would have been a terrible experience for his son, but yet not terrible enough to traumatize the boy.
Holderegger states that denial is a typical feature of infantile trauma see By hiding the answering machine, Oskar not only tries to deny the impact of his father's calls on him, but also the whole situation itself. He simply does not know how to lose the burden of the guilt he carries and therefore tries to carry on as if nothing had ever happened.
Nevertheless, he still tries to communicate and desperately attempts to channel his hidden guilt and knowledge by creating a bracelet for his mother. Oskar converts his father's last voice message into a morse code and uses different kinds and colors of beads and strings to visualize his father's last goodbye.
Scheuren 14 However, Oskar did not originally plan the bracelet for his mother. In fact, he wanted to get rid of it. He states that he has wanted to give it to a homeless person, the old woman who works at the Museum of Natural history ''or even just to someone in a wheelchair'' Foer Oskar eventually decides to give it to his mother so she could wear it at her husband's funeral. The bracelet itself is not only the haptic proof of Oskar's feeling of guilt, ot also makes his grief and the secret he buried deep inside of him concrete.
When Oskar presents his gift to his mother, the traumatic aspect of denial becomes obvious again. Oskar does, or better, cannot accept his mother's new boyfriend Ron. Even though he surely knows that his mother has at least a sexual relationship with Ron, he denies it.
His mother's new relationship, might be not that serious. It can rather be seen as proof of her own attempt to work through her own grief or trauma. Yet Oskar reacts selfishly in this situation, maybe a natural reaction for a nine year old: But I buried it all inside me'' Foer Oskar does not think about his mother's problems; he is too occupied with himself.
When it comes to the Oskar's thoughts, thinking too much again plays an important role. Foer introduces Oskar's fears by listing up the things he is afraid of: Even after a year, I still had an extremely difficult time doing certain things, like taking showers, for some reason, and getting into elevators, obviously. There was a lot of stuff that made me panicky, like suspension bridges, germs, airplanes, fierworks, Arab people on the subway even though I'm not racist , Arab people in restaurants and coffee shops and other public places, scaffolding, sewers and subway grates, bags without owners, shoes, people with mustaches, smoke, knots, tall buildings, turbans.
Foer 36 It is obvious, that the boy has developed these fears after the ''worst day'' Foer Even though Oskar knows why is he is afraid of certain things and consciously states that ''Arab people'', ''bags without owners'', airplanes and other things directly connected to the terrorist attacks frighten him ''obviously'' Foer 36 , yet some of his fears seem to be absurd. Holderegger states in this connection, that trauma patients develop ''diffuse fears'' see Oskar's seemingly unreasonable fears of ''shoes'', ''knots'' or ''germs'' Foer 36 can be seen as entities of his traumatized mind.
Again, his only way out of his trauma is distracting himself. At one point of the novel, in a rather melodramatic presentation, Oskar even analyzes himself to a certain extent: It was worst at night. I started inventing things, and then I couldn't stop, like beavers, which I know about. Scheuren 15 People think they cut down trees so they can build dams, but in reality it's because their teeth never stop growing, and if they didn't constantly file them through by cutting through all of those trees, their teeth would start to grow into their own faces, which would kill them.
That's how my brain was Foer 46 Looking at the quote presented, the protagonist's role as a over thinker becomes obvious again. In this connection Uytterschout and Versluys allude to yet another comparison Oskar draws later in the novel, namely to ''sharks, who die if they don't swim'' Foer in Uytterschout and Versluys par.
Both authors eventually summarize the essence of Oskar's comparison, and by that the whole of Oskar's state of mind as well. Plainly spoken, his inventions and his upcoming ''treasure hunt'' keep him from going insane see par. In this connection, Siegel states that Oskar's fantastic inventions does not only foreground Oskar's unreliability as a narrator, but also points to the role of the imagination in storytelling and to the constructedness of the novel as a fictional text par.
Siegel is right to a certain extend. Oskar needs to be unreliable, because a reliable narrator would not have fit the role of a traumatized child. Yet, Foer's main purpose seems to be rather the use of his character as a narratological tool to display grief and trauma. Oskar's inventions do not, as Siegel states, point to the role of imagination or the novel's constructedness. Extremely does not claim to be a realistic novel, so there is no need to highlight its fictional character.
Furthermore, Oskar's thoughts and streams of consciousness do not refer to the novel's constructedness, but are rather an attempt at a realistic depiction of a traumatized mind. Siegel states that ''[i]t was especially the voice of Oskar [ Yet, the reviewers Siegel alludes to miss one of the most important points of the novel. Oskar's thoughts are simply proof of the trauma he suffers from, not of a historical or political statement.
Nevertheless, Eaglestone ignores this fact and tries to decontextualize Oskar's list of things he is afraid of, by putting it and the whole novel itself, in a postcolonial, global context. Of course, the protagonist's list presents that Oskar is afraid of ''Arab people'', ''mustaches'' and ''turbans'' Foer 36 , but this cannot be regarded as a political or racist statement.
The reality for Oskar is not as global or postcolonial as Eaglestone tries to present it. Foer's ''poetic reality'' Migner is not concerned with cultural or political issues or problems like the Islamic vs. Proof of this can be found towards the end of the novel, Oskar imagines himself being in the World Trade Center at the moment of the attack. He describes what he would have done in this situation.
In this description, two lines are highlighted: I hate you, his eyes would tell me'' Foer Usually, descriptions of Oskar's anger or grief remain somewhat hidden in the main body of the text. Splitting off the two lines discussed from the rest of the body shows the reader that Oskar in fact is angry, although he is unable to express it verbally. Yet, the passage is evidence for the reader that his hate is not directed towards Islam itself. Mullins states Oskar uses the term terrorist without attaching ''identity labels'' such as culture or nationality since he can still distinguish between terrorists and ''Arab people'' , which also shows a link to the protagonist's list of things he is afraid of, previously discussed in this paper.
The attack on the World Trade Center is therefore presented as an ''act of pure an inexplicable evil'' see Craps Oskar's failure to express his pain -only his eyes are evidence of his hate-, finds its climax in this brief, structurally highlighted, parallelism. The passage analyzed is evidence that the novel is rather a reflection of what happened to average people, without actually taking into account the global consequences of September 11, or as Keith Gessen simply calls it: Scheuren 17 what are now our parents' clothes'' Therefore, the grief of all characters is generalized and not channelled towards a certain concept of 'the enemy'.
However, Oskar does not talk about his trauma a problem which is not exclusive to his character, as the reader of Extremely discovers later , but rather tries to solve his problems on his own. Uytterschout and Versluys consider his trauma to be actually articulated ambivalently.
He is at the same time able and unable to talk about what he is going through, since he is unable to talk with his mother and grandmother, but opens himself to a complete stranger, who turns out to be his grandfather see par.
Although Gessen states that ''the words extremely loud and incredibly close describe […] Oskar's narrative style'' 69 , the protagonist remains unable to actually utter his grief. However, whenever Oskar narrates ''extremely loud'' 69 it seems peculiar that 'real outburst' have only taken place in his head since he ''explain[s] later that he had not really said anything of the kind or anything at all'' Mullins An example of this can be found in a passage of the book, in which Oskar plays the Role of Yorrik in a schoolplay of Hamlet.
He imagines himself smashing the head of Jimmy Snyder, a bully who terrorizes him at school, but soon bursts out into a tirade of violence, directed against all the things and people that weigh heavy upon his shoulders: His blood.
Foer The quote presented is the only part of the novel, in which the protagonist opens himself to such an extend. However, it has to be highlighted that Oskar only imagines the situation.
Actually uttering words of aggression or hitting people would never come to his mind. Most of the time Oskar rather laconically talks about his feelings or about hurting himself: Even if he knows that it is the wrong thing to suppress his emotions, one of Oskar's reaction to his grief is by turning his psychological pain into something physical.
Oskar's bruises can be seen as a kind of penalty the boy inflicts on himself, an act of self destruction, but on the other hand might be obvious hints to his surroundings that he needs help. Even in his therapy sessions, the boy never overtly states what he really wants or needs.
Scheuren 18 Additionally, Oskar never explicitly states why he hurts himself. He might know subconsciously, yet he simply cannot explain it, neither to himself nor to the reader. However, Uytterschout and Versluys summarize that the physical pain of the bruises echoes Oskar's inner pain of missing his father and constitutes his state of mind as ''a 'mixture' of melancholia and mourning see par. However, Oskar is not Hamlet, the prototypical melancholic.
His refusal to wear white clothes exclusively - a striking contrast to Hamlet's black clothes- see Foer 3 can be seen as futher proof of this.
Foer chooses Oskar to play the role of Yorrick, the dead jester, which shows a clear distinction from Hamlet as the exlusively melancholic thinker. Even though Oskar's feels the urge to invent, his intellect serves also the function of protecting him from harm. His often sarcastic or cynical reactions serve as a shield for him.
Whenever Oskar is attacked, he does not play the madman, but hides his psychological problems behind his intellect. One of Oskar's ways to cope with his trauma, besides from inventing, is -again nonverbally- writing in his journal.
The boy jots down his current state of mind, but has to correct himself constantly see Foer , which reflects his unstable emotional state. The crossing out of words is one of the most explicit structural elements of the book which, on the one hand, prominently features a character's deviant way to communicate -or try to communicate-, but on the other hand shows Foer's active interfering with the plot.
In this context, Migner states, that an author's handwriting in a modern novel is most present, if the novel is structured in an idiosyncratic way In this case, Foer's ''handwriting'' reflects Oskar's helplessness. The author makes him constantly correct his state of mind which indicates his restlessness and his inner conflict. Oskar simply does not know how he feels, or better, how he is supposed to feel and how he is supposed to express himself.
It is striking that Oskar corrects himself with the same stylistic elements as his grandfather, an important point which shall be discussed in the section concerned with Thomas Schell in more detail. However, the connection of both characters becomes most obvious in the chapter: For the first time in the novel, the reader encounters the feature of a crossed-out word. Later in the chapter, the reader is presented with Oskar's notebook, in which he jots down his various moods. In this case: His daybook yet again shows a link to his grandfather.
However, Oskar's visual presentation does not show the frantical character Thomas shows in his letters or his notebook. In contrast to his grandparents Oskar's trauma has not severely affected his communication.
Zemanek states this structure is used to create the illusion of holding Oskar's actual notebook in one's own hands4 and sees his words as an ''impatient flux'' The question is whether the striking out of words in this case really reflects impatience or rather inner agitation as a consequence of guilt. However Oskar is not a direct victim of a traumatic event, and therefore his structural representation of trauma cannot be compared that easily to that of his grandparents, even if certain features of representation overlap.
In contrast to Oskar, the origin of his grandparents' disturbed communication can be derived from two totally different entities. According to Uytterschout, they have been traumatized by WW II and are ''retraumatised by the loss of their son in the attacks on the World Trade Center In this context, Uytterschout quotes Langer and Tal by stating that ''[…] primary witness accounts are the only acceptable form of trauma testimony'' See appendix C 5 Note: See also Laub's In: When he eventually finds out, that his mother has known of his journey all along, and has informed all of the Blacks he has visited, the first proof of Oskar's catharsis, or as Uytterschout and Versluys call it: By opening himself to his mother, Oskar breaks free from his melancholic silence and makes himself familiar with the surrounding his trauma had gradually estranged him from.
The last pages of the book, which consist of the boy's phantasy of rewinding the time, so he and his family ''would have been safe'' Foer does not yet again reflect denial.
It rather serves as a reflection of Oskar's simple wish that his father's death could be undone. Even if Siegel states, that the flip-book, which serves as an entity to visualize Oskar's wish, has been said to jeopardize the book's chances to be taken seriously see Siegel par. Siegel goes on by mentioning that Foer said he uses images consciously and analyzes a quote by him, in which he states that using pictures in his book for him meant staying true to the experience of the terrorist attacks see Foer in Siegel par.
Foer relates his use of images to the experience of national trauma at the same time highlights the influence of images on the construction of a collective memory when he claims that an event is remembered by images.
Siegel par. Nothing less or more. In this context, Simpson states that ''inspirational images'' such as images, gestures, slogans and songs motivate people and gave them opportunities to share the burden of the event with others see Simpson Putting Oskar's flip-book in a historical or political frame thus leads to a general misinterpretation of the author's intention.
In this connection, Lurie quotes the New York Time's caption printed under the very image of the ''Falling Man'' by stating that the picture shows a ''horrific sight that is repeated'' She emphasizes the fact that, due to the picture's character and the victim's anonymity, the image does not refer to the horror of the falling man himself, but rather to the spectator's horror.
Additionally, a striking similarity becomes clear when taking a look at Kauffmann's World Trauma Center. She mentions that Kaplan, a professor of media and cinema studies, has started to ''obsessively photograph[ Extremely tries to convince the reader that its photographs, including the flip-book, are in fact parts of Oskar's notebook, or archive: Stuff that happened to me. Oskar's archive and the flip-book itself could be seen as examples of ''reenactment, the replaying.
This brief analysis cannot be denied, but a more detailled analysis and the reason why both authors come to this conclusion seems crucial at this point.
Oskar's grandfather, a survivor of WW II, is an aphasic and survives by writing down in a little notebook he carries with him. His parts of the book contain the structurally most striking parts of the novel. An analysis of the deviant character of his letters and his notebook is unavoidable to analyze his character.
The first proof of Thomas Schell's trauma is found in the first unsent letter to his son. Reading the first lines of the letter already indicates Thomas' pathologicical condition, namely aphasia. He reveals to his son that he ''[ Thomas presents himself in the passive role of a sufferer here, yet the root of his aphasia is not clear and never becomes clear, throughout the whole novel. Even if he, rather poetically, mentions that: Is it a result of protest or a clinical condition, caused by traumatic war experience?
Scheuren 22 Another letter to his soon gives the reader not only more details about Thomas' story, but also of his trauma. For the first time in the novel, Thomas actually gives a quite detailled report of what happened on the day that was to be the root of his trauma: Sometimes I think if I could tell you what happened to me that night, O could leave that night behind me, maybe I could come home to you, but that night has no beginning or end, it started before I was born and it's still happening.
Foer The quote presented not only shows, yet again, typical features of a trauma victim, namely self-pity and the inner urge to repeat the traumatic event over and over in the mind. It is rather a confession. Thomas openly addresses his son and tells him that he is not only a victim of war, a refugee, but also a trauma victim. The letter reveals that Thomas once must have been an optimistic young man; in love with his girlfriend, Anna, his actual wife's sister. As the letter continues, Thomas reveals that Anna has died during the allied bombing of Dresden.
The description of a happy man and his the joy over his girlfriend's pregnancy soon gives way to a detailed report of the actual attacks. The fact that Thomas pictures the scenery in nearly every detail are further proof of the impact the evening had on him. When I had thought I was dying at the base of the Loschwitz Bridge, there was a single thought in my head: Keep thinking.
Thinking would keep me alive. But now I am alive, and thinking is killing me. I think and think and think. I can't stop thinking about that night, the clusters of red flares, the sky, that was like black water, and how only hours before I lost everything, I had everything. Foer The similarity between Thomas Schell and his grandson seems striking when taking a look at the passage presented.
Constant thinking is exactly the same effect of traumatization that can be found in Oskar's character. In comparison Thomas' wording: That's how my brain was. The overall picture shows that both characters suffer from nearly the same haunting pain, namely a trauma that has not been worked through properly yet. His second letter is filled with striking corrections. Red circles slowly but gradually start to take over page for page, until the letter nearly resembles one big correction. While the initial circles highlight 'real' mistakes, such as ''actreses'' see Foer , the pattern soon become irreproducible.
The corrections merge closer and closer together, a technique which shall be discussed in the upcoming sections in more detail. However, it seems that Thomas becomes overwhelmed by his emotions. It seems that the more brutal and detailed the content gets, the more red ink is used. Thomas descriptions of fire, noise and death are lumed by the corrections, they nearly cover the actual content of the letter.
It is unclear what Foer wants to tell the reader with this. Is it a link to the dead son, who used to correct the New York Times see Foer 10?
Is it a graphical depiction of blood or fire? Is it just an eyecatcher? All of these interpretations can be regarded as somewhat right, yet the last one seems the most plausible. Thomas' survivor guilt, and the trauma it caused seems to be the keywords when taking a look at the letter. One can almost imagine him writing the letter and getting more and more emotionally involved.
Caruth mentions in this connection ''that survival itself [ Thomas desperately writes until he reaches a point where just every word he writes, and the whole letter itself, in which the risk of ''[ In this context, Migner states, that the modern novel makes itself depends on the characters it introduces.
The required forms and structures are derived from the figures presented In contrast to that, Eaglestone concludes his analysis of Foer's novel by stating that the structural aspects presented in Extremely ''mark the failure of the novel to get to the issues'' He uses a brief interpretation of one of the book's central moments namely the return of Oskar's grandfather.
Thomas comes finally back to New York City in , exactly two years after September He plans to see his grandson and his wife, he has left 40 years ago, and wants to begin his ''second life'' Foer with her. The chapter starts off with two black and white photographs 6 which graphically separate the chapter from the previous one. Eaglestone states that these ''Sebald-esque photographs both illuminate and illustrate the end point of communication'' Eaglestone's analysis misses the point here.
The photographs, which show the words ''Yes'' and ''No'' tattooed on Thomas Schell's hands, rather present a shift of communication methods and conventions, not a total loss of them.
Regarding the character's background, expressing himself by use of 'normal' language is simply ''[.. Due to the fact that the photos of Thomas' hands can be regarded as text, since they -literally- contain it, Uytterschout compares the photos with the book's front cover: Filled up with the usual information, such as author and title and colored in a striking, shiny red, the hand on the cover leaves literally no space for anything else7.
Uytterschout contrasts this jammed image to the information on Thomas' hands: However, one has to keep in mind that Uytterschout might overinterpret here, since the cover might be simply composed the way it is to promote and market the novel.
The chapter immediately following the photographs consist of a letter Thomas Shell has written to ''my [his] child'' Foer Uytterschout applies LaCapra's theory of ''writing trauma'' on the presentation of Thomas' letter. He states that ''in literary terms, writing trauma can ''achieve articulation in different combinations and hybridized forms'' These forms start to become clear with the very title of the chapter. Starting with: All images referred to can be found in the appendix; See appendix A 7 Note: See appendix B 8 Note: As an aphasic, he simply cannot utter the words he wants to express and needs to rely solely on writing to express himself to the outside world.
His only possibility to convey or to ''write his trauma'' Uytterschout 65 is by using structural gimmicks. The first structural aspect that clearly sticks out of the rest of the main body of the letter is when Thomas is asked the purpose of his visit at the airport: Striking out the word ''mourn'' means more for Thomas than just a correction of an error.
In fact it is impossible for him to erase the word -and his emotions- constantly. Foer could have simply made him use a pencil, but instead Thomas writes with a permanent pen. This single crossed-out word reflects a crucial message of the book.
Oskar's grandfather on the one hand tries to go on with his life, but on the other hand is unable to leave his grief behind. In this context, Sien Uytterschout quotes Sandra Gilbert by stating that ''[…] writing about traumatic events and sharing experiences with others will never make them undone. Oskar's grandfather shows clear symptoms of survivor guilt see also Uytterschout and Versluys par. Thomas feels guilty for beeing still alive, an important factor of his trauma, which shall later be discussed in more detail in the section concerned with Grandmother Schell.
However, the problem of an adequate expression of feelings is a theme prominent throughout the whole chapter. Eaglestone gives only a brief summary of the passage: Disregarding the fact that Eaglestone places the two passages in the wrong order, his analysis fails again, since it is not sufficient and too general.
He subsumes his findings under the bold conclusion that ''all these textual tricks serve to delimit the text, to mark what it cannot do'' 20 , which is not true, since the passages discussed rather show what the text in 9 Note: Thomas calling his wife to pour his heart out to her is just another example and strikes the reader by introducing a code language: I pressed ''4, 3, 5, 6,'' she said ''Hello?
I wanted to reach my hand through the mouthpiece, down the line and into her room, I wanted to reach YES [.. What I wondered, is the sum of my life?
His call stresses the fact that he simply cannot talk to his wife, since he is handicapped, but simply taking this notion at face value would mean only scratching the surface. Throughout the novel, it never becomes clear whether Thomas has put himself in this condition deliberately or if he suffers from aphasia due to a shock caused by the bombing of Dresden.
Migner's theory of a structure that is derived from the character s can therefore not only be applied directly to Thomas but to Oskar and -later on- his grandmother as well, since they all make use of distinctive forms and structures. Regarding this, the term 'code', realized concretely by use of a numeric code, and its communicative use can additionally be understood in its linguistic sense.
Communication is based on encoding, sending and decoding. All of the three traumatized characters encode and send their message s differently. Coming back to Thomas, the code he uses in this case displays his angry despair, his sadness and his ''overpowering inability to put his feelings into comprehensible communication'' Uytterschout 70 , yet remains futile, since his wife cannot 'decode' his words.
The question is whether Oskar's grandfather stopped talking simply because actually uttering words has failed him profoundly in the past and still disappoints in the present. The switch of communication from speaking to writing seems to offer unexpected possibilities. Leaving a 'gap' in spoken language is only temporary, and a pause between words can never express a caesura as an actual physical gap that separates written words constantly by banning them on paper.
However, throughout the letter Thomas addresses to his son, even writing seems not sufficient: The following 2. Is Thomas explaining his incapability of expressing himself, or is Foer explicitly addressing the reader through his character?
The second assumption would clearly contradict Doderer's notion of the modern American novel. He stresses that modern novels are still classified as neorealistic or naturalistic and elicits that modern authors fulfill a function comparable to a camera lens. Never do authors hustle themselves between the reader and a novel's reality This notion yet again leads to the consequence that Extremely is not a realistic novel.
The question is if a novel can be realistic at all. Migner states that the very intention of describing something in a realistic way encounters resistances, when it isput into articulation. The consequence is a reality, which the reader cannot grasp at first sight The creation of this new perception of reality is a crucial aspect in Foer's novel. Whenever the characters in Extremely cannot cope with their reality, this is reflected in the book's structure.
Foer's role as an active participant in the presentation of the book's plot can therefore be analyzed as an author who becomes an ''inherent part of the narrated poetic reality [ Even ''writing trauma'' LaCapra qtd in Uytterschout 65 down seems to come to a critical point. It is hard to say whether writing really failed at this point, or if Thomas just sees no other possibility to express himself.
The word adequacy again comes to the fore when analyzing this passage. Thomas' words merge closer and closer together, while the letters become smaller at the same time.
By frantically typing over his own words again and again, he soon creates an unreadable black block of letters. Uytterschout subsumes this as follows: The blackness presented can sure be analyzed as incomprehensibility, since the access to Thomas' thoughts is literally blocked to the reader and even to himself.
Uytterschout sees this ''as an attempt on Foer's part to involve the reader as an active participant in the unravelling of trauma'' 71 , while Keith Gessen describes him in this context as ''the ultimate Foer narrator'' All of the interpretations are right, yet it is difficult to tell if the blackness reflects inaccessibility, incomprehensibility, the general psychological state of a trauma victim or even all of it combined.
The overall picture seems to be that of a structure that reflects the fact that ''there is never ''world enough and time'' [original emphasis]'' 61 to talk about everything the writer -in this case writers, namely Thomas Schell and Foer- want to talk about. Even if the overall interpretation of the chapter discussed and Thomas Schell's notebook in general remain controversial, it can surely not be analyzed as Foer's cheap try to use random structural gimmicks to avoid using actual language, as some authors like to subsume it Eaglestone; Munson qtd.
Mitchum Huehls highlights a possible pitfall of Foer's structure, namely that the reader is confronted with ''formal techniques [ For Huehls it seems controversial that the book contains parts which try to perform events for the reader by reproducing them.
He mentions that even if Oskar's business card is reproduced in the text, it does not look like a business card at all. The techniques used are rather ''quasi-performative''. This is also true to Thomas Schell's daybook The problem seems rather obvious: According to Huehls, the novel unintentionally destroys the illusion it tries to create. Oskar's business card can be seen and analyzed as a 'real' card, or just as a box containing text, which pretends to be a business card.
The same is true for grandfather Schell's daybook. Huehls states that by using the same font as the rest of the novel, Thomas Schell's daybook does not achieve a consistent performativity This notion can of course be applied to every passage that contains deviant structural elements and thus, disassemble every single technique by showing its weaknesses.
Huehls, for example elaborates on this, by criticizing that: The grandfather's daybook thus reveals that the text's overall performativity breaks down because sometimes it claims actually to be the thing that we are reading about e. Huehls misses an important fact here: There is no evidence why the reader should regard some passages of the book as representing reality rather than being real.
Even if 12 ''letter'' because he did not actually sent it, but wrote it down in his daybook only. Scheuren 29 Huehls tries to prove his theory by showing the novel's flaws, its reality can at no point of time be put into question. No reader can seriously expect a book to copy reality itself. Still, the question remains why Foer uses reproduction of textual elements to a varying degree.
In some points of the book the structure presented is more elaborate than in other parts, without any identifiable justification. Still the framework of illusion and thus, the structural representation of trauma does not fall apart because of these weaknesses. No modern reader expects a book to accomplish a mimesis of reality , therefore Huehls' theory cannot be agreed on.
The text remains performative even if some 'slips' remain present. Ingersoll underlines this fact by stating that even if the written texts are ''fragile and inadequate'' they seems to be more ''functional'' than spoken language 62 in terms of written representation of trauma and a literary dealing with its consequences. However, even Thomas' deep rooted trauma and melancholy start to slightly burst when he finally faces his grandson.
Oskar presents Thomas the phone he has hidden from anybody else, and which has the last words of his father on its mailbox. By letting Thomas listen to the recording of his father's last call, Oskar partially shares his trauma with him, even though he does not know that he is his grandfather and not, as he still believes, just his grandmother's renter. Not only Oskar's psyche shows the first indications of healing in this situation.
The link between Thomas and his son becomes obvious: The mute father listens to the taped voice of his dead son. As a reaction to this, Thomas starts to share his feelings as well. The old man eventually shows Oskar the letters he had written to his son: Foer The passage highlights Thomas first step towards a cure to his trauma, namely opening himself to his grandson and thus beginning to work through his traumatic experience. Revealing the feelings he has hidden for so long seem to be the initiating moment in losing the muteness of his emotions.
Yet it is unsure whether the character will ever fully recover, or as Uytteschout and Versluys phrase it: The issue of bodily survival is logically tied up with the question whether or not one can emotionally recover from trauma. If recovery stands for regaining full 'health', then it is impossible'' par. While Oskar's grandfather wrote against the "impossibility to say everything there is still left to say" Zemanek 36 , quite the opposite is true for his grandmother, or as Uytterschout and Versluys state it: In her first letter she talks about her life in Germany and how much she wanted everybody to write her a letter.
Eventually she asks her maternal grandmother to write her, a crucial part of the chapter through which the reader gains a first insight in Grandmother Schell's mind: I didn't have any interest in knowing her.
I have no need for the past, I thougt, like a child. I did not consider the past might have a need for me. It was the story of her life. She wrote, I wish I could be a girl again, with the chance to live my life again. I have suffered so much more than I needed to. And the joys I have felt have not always been joyous. I could have lived differently Foer The ultimate phrase in her grandmother's letter at the same time forms the ultimate statement of Grandmother Schell's self-doubts. She feels guilty for having made the wrong decisions in her life.
Now, that the past is over and fixed, all that remains are her pangs of remorse. It seems that Oskar's grandmother used to have a communication problem, slightly comparable to her husband's.
When she was a girl, she simply could not talk to people, yet not in a physical, but in the psychological sense. This becomes obvious when she reveals that she wanted to kiss her piano teacher, but due to the fact that she was to afraid of talking to him asked him to write a letter instead. Grandmother Schell's need of getting to know people and their handwriting seems to be unsatiable, but yet remains nonsatisfactory for her: I had letters from everyone I knew.
I laid them out on my bedroom floor, and organized them by what they shared. One hundred letters. I was always moving them around, trying to make connections. I wanted to understand Foer 79 Grandmother Schell does not explain the root or drive of her ambitions. Her search for connections might be seen as a general attempt to challenge life and its meaning s itself. In her description, she states that she '' [ The only way of achieving her goal seems for her to achieve a high profiency in English.
Yet, learning idioms and reading magazines and newspaper all day long does not lead to the effect she has wished for. Afraid of being ''ridiculous'' she soon abandons her efforts see Foer The section presented provides valuable information about Grandmother Schell's ways of dealing with her trauma.
All in line with the stereotypical American idea of an immigrant, she wants to leave behind her past and start a new life in the United States. However, as a refugee of war, having literally lost all she had, she has no interest in keeping memory of her past anyway.
Grandmother Schell just wants to forget and avoids coping with her past by creating a 'blankness', a feature which will be discussed in more detail later in this paper. One of the main roots of Grandmother Schell's trauma is not only World War II itself, but also the loss of her beloved sister, Anna, the woman who carried Thomas' unborn child. Anna asks her sister not to tell anybody that she and Thomas had kissed behind their parents shed.
Her sister promises her to be quiet about it, but Anna wants to be sure about it: She said, Why should I believe you? I wanted to tell her, because what I saw would no longer be mine if I talked about it. I said, Because I am your sister. Thank you. Foer 80 The reader does not understand the full complexety of the sisters' relationship at this point. The dialogue seems on the one hand to reveal Grandmother Schell's urge to 'collect' again, but on the other hand, shows that she is hiding her real emotions from her sister.
It is not before the very last page of her third letter to Oskar, that she reveals her real emotions and one of the main reasons of her trauma: It was late and we were tired. We assumed there would be other nights. Anna's breathing started to slow, but I still wanted to talk. She rolled on the other side. She was my sister. We slept in the same bed.
There was never a right time to say it. It was always unnecessary [ It's always necessary. The fact that she is a ''talker'' seems to be a factor deeply manifested in her letters. The paragraph presented above shows her eventual summary of her laborious diction. It is the guilt of never having revealed her true emotions to her sister that makes up one of the major factors of her trauma as a whole.
Guilt plays an important role in Grandmother Schell's life. She feels guilty for almost everything bad that happened to her or her loved ones. She even states that she feels guilty for collecting the letters she has received, which seems to be a rather childish, yet comprehensible reaction, considering her character: Only one thing seems to temporarily distract her from her pain, namely her husband, Thomas Schell. However, after their first meeting in the United States, Grandmother Schell's guilt and the feeling of being left alone for a second time seem to become unbearable for her.
According to Uytterschout and Versluys, she shows a clearly suicidal behavior: I started to walk off. I was going to walk to the Hudson River and keep walking. I would carry the biggest stone I could bear and let my lungs fill with water Foer 82 Yet, the passage above seems problematic. Even if victims of trauma often channel their grief into acts of self-destruction, or in this case, its ultimate form, suicide, it is yet not clear if Grandmother Schell really planned to killed herself, or just subconsciously thought about it.
One fact remains without a doubt, namely a link to Oskar's bruises, and maybe even Thomas' muteness, as acts of self-destruction and self-punishment. In this context, Uytterschout and Versluys state that Grandmother Schell clearly reflects the same struggle as her husband, namely that of wavering between a crisis of life and a crisis of death.
During her first meeting with Thomas, he denies who he is or that he has ever met her before: Are you Thomas? I asked. He schook his head no. You are, I said. I know you are.