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Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close By Oskar Schell

Decent Essays
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is, on the surface, about the ways in which a family copes with grief, and the ways in which a young boy, Oskar Schell, copes with the loss of his father in the aftermath of 9/11. However, at the root of the novel, the author is expressing a sentiment about the very human difficulty of expressing deep, internalized emotions. In the wake of great emotional pain, people are prone to retreat within themselves, internalize their emotions, and lose their ability to express and share their feelings with those around them. In short, they miscommunicate. Both Oskar Schell and Thomas Schell (two of the book’s main narrators) have experienced tremendous pain and loss, and they both follow this pattern of being hurt…show more content…
It’s heavily implied (although not stated directly) that Oskar suffers from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, as well as autism, and these struggles are referenced frequently throughout the book in the form of metaphors. In the limousine on the way to his father’s funeral at the beginning of the book, Oskar is chastised by his mother and thinks, “She could tell that I was zipping up the sleeping bag of myself, and I could tell that she didn’t really love me.” (Foer, pg. 6) In this sentence, Oskar is attempting to express to the reader that he’s retreating within himself, closing himself off, internalizing these deep emotions in the wake of something tragic and painful. He’s already been hurt deeply by the death of his father, and the disapproval of his mother compounds this hurt, leading him to retreat and miscommunicate. Even though he’s physically talking (in fact, Oskar is extremely chatty for most of the limousine ride), Oskar is unable to express any of the big feelings that he’s experiencing because he’s been hurt and he’s attempting to protect…show more content…
In expressing his feelings only in the form of writing letters (and never sending them) Thomas perpetuates his own inability to communicate deep feelings by allowing himself to retreat further into his own mind while still maintaining the comfort of feeling like he has someone to confide in. These letters are merely a physical manifestation of his deeply internalized emotions, and although they bring him some level of comfort, they keep him locked inside himself and hinder his ability to connect. That being said, these letters give Thomas an outlet to express and cope with his pain, and if the pain is the root of his inability to communicate, these letters should improve his communication skills and help him connect. However, Thomas doesn’t use these letters to reflect and heal- he dwells, and himself into a bitter, almost masochistic state of nostalgia. The letters do not lead him towards closure, but rather give him a place to obsess over to dwell on his pain and misfortune. In the end, Thomas connects with his grandson, Oskar, and manages to find a certain level of peace in burying the letters in his son’s empty
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