Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is an article based over the events that take place on a Tuesday in September, 2001. For nine-year-old Oskar Schell, it is a day that changes his life forever.
When you are first introduced to Oskar, he is talking about a million things at once, all different, with no apparent connection. You get the idea that Oskar is very intelligent for his age and somewhat estranged from other kids.
Throughout the book, Oskar displays several autistic-like and OCD-related tendencies. These include becoming very upset when somebody touches his belongings and claims over and over that they’re his items, or how it annoys him to be touched by his grandma, even though he loves her.
A fascinating aspect of this is that Oskar is aware that it annoys him when he’s being touched sometimes. He is also aware that some of the things he does annoys the people and the adults around him. He knows that some things he says or does are hurtful to his mother, to his grandmother, and not just hurtful but he feels as though he is on different plains with them.
Throughout the book, Oskar’s personality forms as somebody who is always searching for the purpose of something, always full of a million questions about everything and anything he can ask, and you get the sense that his father was far more tolerable and attuned to this than his mother.
Oskar and his mother do not get along for a long time after his father’s death. He feels guilty about hiding the phone messages from his mother, and he feels that she would have wanted him to be the one who died instead of his father. Probably one of the things they discuss and argue over the most is Ron, his mother’s friend, because Oskar believes that she likes him and is involved with him, and his mom simply keeps telling him that Ron is just a friend, which he doesn’t believe.
The entire book, Oskar spends most of his time convinced that his father left behind the key he finds in the closet for one last mystery Oskar was supposed to solve. So he searches for people, stores, apartments, anything that has to do with the word Black. Oskar meets several different people who claim they have no idea about the key or his father.
For Oskar, the death of his father is also the death of his best friend. And for Oskar, it’s also an interruption in his daily routine, so he has to find a way to cope with his dad’s death, and find meaning in all of the sadness and angriness he feels towards that day.
It seems as though throughout the entire book, Oskar cannot stop searching for meaning in his father’s death. And especially for a young and unique child like Oskar, a death in his family would be incredibly hard to process, although he explains what happened quite plainly, and he knows that his father is dead, but he explains that he thinks the funeral wasn’t really a funeral because there was no body, and that they breathe him in with every breath outside because his dad died in the towers.
Osskar knows he is smarter than most people, which I believe is why some people find him so strange or hard to tolerate, because this nine year old boy is full of knowledge, yet also full of a million questions, and he can come off as annoying from never stopping to listen before he interrupts and asks questions before the story is over.
It’s pretty clear that Oskar is not like other boys throughout the entire book. He doesn’t like getting dirty, when most boys his age do. He makes jewelry as one of his hobbies, when other boys would find it demeaning. He is portrayed as intelligent beyond his age throughout the entire novel. And in the book, you only hear of one other friend Oskar has his age. I believe this is why the death of his father affects him in the way it does, because he was closer to him than anybody, young or old.
At the end of the book, Oskar finally gets closer with his father’s passing, and also mends what was broken with his mother, or what he thought was broken. And although the key was meant to unlock something physical, with Oskar it also opened something emotional as well. The barrier that was coming between him and his mother ever since the worst day, finally becomes resolved.