To Live, to Love, and to Grieve.
-Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
What does it mean to be human? It is to live, to love, but most to grieve. In the wake of one of America’s greatest tragedies a young boy learns what it means to grieve. Oskar and the world around him are sent into turmoil faced with the loss of many loved ones, faced with grief. What is grief? All of the characters in the novel are grieving. They are grieving for the loss of a father, a mother, a sister; they are grieving for the marriage that will never satisfy; they are grieving for the words they will never get the chance to say, the words they will never hear; they are grieving for the answers to the questions left behind, answers they will never find. Each character is brought to terms with what has happened and forced to search for the meaning of what happened, for the why of their grief. All connected by a young boy searching for a connection with his father, a way to feel at peace with his death. From the beginning it is clear that Oskar is incredibly smart and curious. In the beginning we learn of the game that he always played with his father and of the key he left behind. Oskar searches for what the key is to and what it means. Why was this key so important to his father, why was it left behind for him to find? Oskar longs for his father to answer these questions. “He would have been able to explain everything” (pg147) but he is dead leaving the young boy behind with so many unanswered questions. In dealing with the loss of his father he sets out to find the meaning behind the key he left behind. Oskar strives to use his intelligence – the facts, the details, and the evidence—to make sense of the turmoil his world is in. He tries to understand but soon learns that some explanations will never be discovered. Oskar feels the deep need for his father through his grief whereas before when he was...
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