The Necessity of “I love you.”
In his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer tells the story of Oskar Schell, a boy who is on a therapeutic journey to cope with the unexpected loss of his father. Along the way he meets many different people, and befriends nearly all of them. The elderly Mr. Black becomes his travel companion in the search for the lock that goes to the key Oskar found in his father’s closet not long after his death. In this passage, Oskar reflects on his last encounter with Mr. Black and how he didn’t know it would be the last time he would see him, just like he didn’t know it would be the last time his dad would tuck him into bed, “…because you never know” (286). This concept of not knowing is a main theme throughout the entire book. Foer is sending the message to his readers that life can change in an instant and you might not get a second chance to say what you want to say.
This passage takes place after Oskar goes to Mr. Black’s apartment and finds he has left and his belongings are being auctioned. It partly focuses on Oskar wondering what if. He says if he had known that afternoon would be the last time he’d speak to Mr. Black he would have done things differently. He might have confessed more about his father, or would have tried harder to keep him from quitting the search, or would not have lied and said he understood why Mr. Black was quitting when he really didn’t, but Oskar knows it can’t be helped now. He says, “I never went to find him on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, because I was happier believing he was there than finding out for sure” (286). This is Oskar’s way of dealing with the loss of another person in his life he cared about. Foer’s explanation earlier in the text leads us to believe that Mr. Black has died, and now we can infer that Oskar is coming to the same conclusion. However, him saying he is happier believing Mr. Black is at the Empire State Building than...
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