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Death of Loved Ones: Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

The death of a loved one causes torment and anguish pushing the mind to try everything possible to get close to the lost loved one more time. This premise comes out clearly in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close publication. The book is a narration by a nine-year-old Oskar Schell after his father, Thomas Schell, died during the 9/11 terror attacks. The publication focuses on the life of Oskar after the passing of his father and how he dealt with such a great loss. Oskar found a key in his father’s closet and a letter addressed to “Black” and felt like his father might have left a message for him through the key.

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He spends the next few months trying to figure out what the key meant. He decides to look for all the people with the name Black to find out if they knew his father. Although the story focuses on Oskar, there are other characters who are also intensively developed throughout the publication. For instance, the story of his paternal grandparents is highlighted. Additionally, the story of how Oskar’s mother’s death with the loss of her husband is also narrated. This essay uses the novel to discuss how the death of loved ones affects individuals to extreme extents that only closure can lead to a peaceful acceptance of the loss.

The issue of closure after the death of a loved one is individualistic, and this proves the thesis as it supports the argument of finding closure. This means that different people seek closure differently, and it only works if the activities are initiated at a personal level. Oskar indirectly tells his mother that his father left him a message, and he is trying to understand its meaning. He says this when his mother asks about his whereabouts after his father’s funeral. “He left me a message, and I have to know what it is about,” he tells his mother (Foer, 12). This quote indicates that Oskar felt like his father’s life was incomplete until he understood the message behind the key and the letter.

The narrator could not let go and accept his father’s demise without at least trying to find out what the key was for. Additionally, his mother dealt with and sought closure in a different way. She started going for therapy sessions for spouses who had lost loved ones. His grandfather, upon hearing of his son’s death, relocated to New York to be close to his grandson. All these activities prove that the individuals who felt the loss of Thomas sought different individualistic ways of finding closure. Eventually, it is these individual activities that led to the acceptance of Thomas’s death.

Also, the journey to closure after the death of a loved one does not usually end the way the bereaved desires, and this ties to the thesis as it highlights how the bereaved finally reach acceptance. “The key was not meant for me, I am ready to move on,” Oskar told William Black (Foer, 318). This happened when Oskar visited William Black, who told him that the key belonged to a safe his (Black’s) father had left him. The realization meant two things for Oskar. The first is that the key had no last message for him from his father.

This is a sad and depressing fact for the character as it was the only way (according to him) to get closure. Secondly, the realization means that all the activities that had happened since his father’s death had been for nothing. Arguably, this results in the character feeling sad and heartbroken. The whole process suggests that the process of closure does not end the way human beings expect. Regardless, they get the needed comfort at the end, and their minds are forced to accept the loss and move on for a chance to be happy. The same can be applied in Oskar’s mum’s situation. Therapy did not help her fully accept the death of her husband. However, she found a trusted friend, Ron, who was also grieving, and together, they accepted their losses.

Additionally, due to the intense nature of grief, one is only able to get full closure after connecting with somebody else who has gone through the same thing. This connects to the thesis statement in that it suggests the importance of seeking closure no matter where it comes from in the end. There are several instances that prove this in the book. For the narrator, Oskar, this is proven when his mother calls every Black he was to visit (without his knowledge), requesting they answer his question.

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For his mother, this was manifested in her relationship with Ron. “As I went home, something William said resonated with me. My mother had called him, and possibly others, to make sure they welcomed me into their homes and told me their stories” (Foer, 301). Notably, the actions that are depicted in the novel drive the emotions of the characters. For example, Oskar’s search for Black leads to his anxiety to know what his father left for him.

Additionally, when he realizes that the key was not meant for him, he feels heartbroken and sad, an emotion that is driven, to some extent, by his actions (talking to Black). It is important to note that the need to connect with others is also predicted in Oskar’s mother’s therapy sessions. Although the story does not fully describe the sessions, she was able to make friends and also find a lover through the support group. These were people who had gone through the same loss and understood her. This feeling of understanding led to her eventual healing.

In conclusion, the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer narrates the story of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, whose father died during the 9/11 attacks. The story is told through Oskar’s narration. He remembers finding a key in an envelope addressed to Black. In his quest to find Black, he meets with several people who shape his view of life and of his father’s character, including his estranged paternal grandfather.

There are several things about the story that highlights the importance of closure. All of which culminate to the thesis statement of this essay, that the death of loved ones affects individuals to extreme extents that only closure can lead to a peaceful acceptance of the loss. Eventually, the main characters in the novel get the closure they have been looking for all through the story. The text is important as it highlights the struggles people go through immediately after a loss. The fact that the grieving process is different for individuals, even if the affected have lost a mutual friend, makes the novel a good read in regards to understanding loss.

Work Cited

Foer, S. Jonathan. Extremely Loud and Incredible Close. Marina Books, 2005.

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