Symbolism Essay Example: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Symbolism Essay Example: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
📌Category: Literature, Novels
📌Words: 1127
📌Pages: 5
📌Published: 13 April 2021

Trapped. Feeling trapped inside a dark hole, that’s just tall enough so there is no way to get out, but only observe what the outside of that dark hole is like. Oskar was often trapped in that hole of depression seeing the life he could live outside of it, but not being able to obtain it. Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” displays the symbolization of how the characters used different methods as coping mechanisms such as the letters that some of the characters wrote, or the journey that Oskar took. Throughout the book, elements of how different characters dealt with depression, the symbolization of certain events that took place, and the acceptance that some have found and some are still searching for. This book is strongly centered around the coping mechanisms each character portrayed when faced with problems.

Characters Depiction

The author was able to show how different characters dealt with grief and each of their ways of coping. One of Foer’s quotes, “I'm so afraid of losing something I love that I refuse to love anything” (Good Reads) displays the real life emotion that was put into this novel. Foer’s quote alludes to prediction that he may have lost someone very important to him in his life and that is where he got his inspiration for the book from. An article written by RR McCrae discusses different coping mechanisms and how people of various ages deal with them. In his article McCrae talked about how typically “older individuals [are more] rigid and unable to adapt” (McCrae). In the novel it seemed as though the roles were reversed, as Oskar showed more of a mature character than his grandparents who acted somewhat juvenile when it came to their relationship with one another. Oskar’s journey and the letters written by the grandparents were two of the most highlighted subjects of the novel (Foer). Both of these topics feature different ways that the characters found that they were able to deal with the loss of someone that was important in their lives. The best way the grandparents found to deal with their emotions and grief was by writing down everything that they wanted to say, but couldn’t.

The letters served as a way for the grandparents to get their emotions, but they symbolize much more than that. In an in-depth review of the novel written by experts on the book from “” wrote about how, “Grandpa, only ‘speaks’ through written notes, since he has lost his ability to talk. These blank books have collected around the apartment like a fossil record” (LitCharts). The connection between the grandfather and his son are through the letters. Everything that the grandpa said was recorded in his journals, as well as how his son’s last words were on the answering machine. Foer included many examples of symbolism in his work to add “more richness and color and make the meaning of the work deeper”(Fowler) , he wanted the reader to think throughout the novel in-depth. When the reader has to interpret the situations of a book to understand what the author is trying to reach, it lets them become more engaged in the work. “Do you know what time it is?”(Foer, p. 118), Grandpa Thomas asked constantly. He knew the time, but asked because he needed the interaction with people, he needed the connection and someone to talk to him. The grandparents way of coping dealt with getting their emotions out through pen and paper, which contrasts strongly from other parts of the book that Foer added, showing Oskar’s methods and how he handled his extreme emotions.

Oskar and His Attempt to Reach Happiness

Oskar’s methods of trying to reach the happiness that he once knew was finding answers to the questions that he thought were being asked. In a character analysis of Oskar Schell the writer explained that “What Oskar's hoping to find, although he never explicitly articulates it, is closure”(Shmoop Editorial Team). Jonothan Foer used the journey to find the lock as a symbol for Oskar’s true journey of finding contentment and closure. Oskar is exceptionally open and forward with people and able to talk to nearly anyone. With his mental condition he tends views the world in a different way than most people and is constantly curious and wanting to discover. Although Oskar has always had this characteristic, after his father’s death this curiosity and need for answers seemed to intensify. Oskar goes against everything he has displayed throughout the book and when is given the chance to find out what the key opens, he decides not to know (Foer). This choice shows just how mature Oskar is, he finally understood that knowing was not what he needed to heal, but he needed to talk to the people closest to him and open up. His search for the lock was so much more than just that, it was the journey to the happiness that he yearned for on the inside, having knowledge of that Oskar’s mother allowed him to go on this journey.

Wanting nothing but her son to be happy again, Oskar’s mother was allowing him to find his answers and the reconciliation he needed. Oskar’s mother shower the characteristic of being a caring mother, which is someone “who encourages and supports her children”(5) no matter what. Oskar’s mom knew what she needed to do to let him heal; which was letting him go on this journey for him to find the closure that he needed. A part that was interesting that Foer included in the novel was when Oskar told his mom that “if [he] could’ve chosen, [he] would’ve chosen [her]” (Foer). Foer may have added this to the book to show that no matter what Oskar said or thought, his mother would always be there for him no matter what. Foer decided to make Oskar’s mom seem like an absentee character, by not even giving her a name, and making it seem like to the readers and Oskar that she didn’t care where he went or what he did. Toward the end of the book the reader sees what has actually been going on and how Oskar’s mother was in fact paying very close attention to him, by monitoring where he’s going and calling everyone Oskar is meeting with before he goes there. Oskar’s mother knew that the journey Oskar was taking had a deeper meaning and that was why she allowed him to follow that path.

By displaying the symbolization of the different character’s coping mechanisms, Foer was able to give the book a deeper meaning and force the reader to read in between the lines. The way a person is able to deal with a tragic experience in their life varies greatly. The management of grief ranged widely throughout “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, from the journaling of feelings to a 9 month long journey to find a lock. Even when Oskar felt at his lowest and loneliness, he always had his mother, watching from afar, and letting him solve the things he needs to by himself. At the end of the novel Oskar sat in his mother’s arms crying to her, telling her that he was getting better and will find happiness again. Tearing down his walls and being vulnerable, Oskar was finally… freed.


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