Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Oskar Schell Character Analysis

Oskar is the nine-year-old protagonist of the novel: he’s extremely precocious and incredibly imaginative, but he has a lot of fears, worries, anxieties, and guilt. As he walks around New York, Oskar carries a tambourine, which he shakes to try and calm himself. Oskar is also insatiably curious, and—as his business card, which has about twenty different occupations listed shows—he has a huge range of interests, from making jewelry to physics to archaeology to the Beatles. Oskar keeps a binder of Stuff That Happened to Me that’s filled with plenty of stuff that didn’t happen to him—images of tennis players and astronauts, for example—but provides him with a fossil record of his imagination. Unlike Grandpa’s meticulous photographs of the apartment, Oskar’s book is a sort of photo album of his mind. Oskar uses external cues to help him process his emotions. Oskar describes his grief not as being sad but as “having heavy boots,” which allows him to have a way of expressing an indescribable emotion. The plot of the novel centers around Oskar’s expedition to figure out the purpose of the key that he finds in Dad’s closet, but this journey is really about Oskar finding closure after his Dad’s death on 9/11 and to help him deal with his own survivor’s guilt. Oskar has an enormous set of rituals and rules by which he organizes his life—he only wears white, won’t go on public transportation, is vegan, hates heights, avoids bridges—and the expedition also allows and forces Oskar to face his rational fears by tackling his irrational ones.

Oskar Schell Quotes in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close quotes below are all either spoken by Oskar Schell or refer to Oskar Schell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Mariner Books edition of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Isn’t it so weird how the number of dead people is increasing even though the earth stays the same size, so that one day there isn’t going to be room to bury anyone anymore?

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad
Related Symbols: Science, Mathematics, and Invention
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the ways that Oskar deals with the trauma of the Twin Towers’ collapse and of his father’s death is by constructing elaborate scenarios in his head and asking impossible but scientifically structured questions about the world. Oskar’s narration is essentially constructed as an unfiltered running commentary of everything that Oskar is contemplating at a particular time, and his mind jumps among many different subjects, from the ever-increasing number of dead people to the white blazer that his grandmother gave him for his birthday.

Oskar’s narration is filled with direct questions, as though he is carrying on a conversation with someone. Much of the novel is about various forms of communication and direct address, both successful and failed. Oskar asks questions to the people around him, but many of his questions are internal. Oskar used to ask his dad these types of existential queries: they range from the silly to the serious, and the worries have varying levels of grounding in reality, but they always reveal something deeper going on in his mind. The musing about the number of corpses crowding the world shows Oskar’s simultaneous fascination with and fear of death. Oskar does not know how to reckon with the fact that death looms larger in his world at the moment than life, and he wonders how to create the mental as well as physical space necessary to heal. The question also reveals his claustrophobic tendencies, as well as his desire to quantify and categorize everything. Oskar feels safer when he can think about the world scientifically, rather than through overwhelming emotions.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

I spent all day walking around the park, looking for something that might tell me something, but the problem was that I didn’t know what I was looking for…But that’s how tricky Dad could be. There was nothing, which would have been unfortunate, unless nothing was a clue. Was nothing a clue?

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
Dad used to send Oskar on “Expeditions” around New York City, which helped Oskar cope with some of his fears and explore the world outside the apartment. Oskar’s father teaches Oskar how to come out of his shell and find his way in the world. Dad made the world a structured place for Oskar, something that could be navigated with a plan, rather than an infinite chaos without purpose or meaning. Oskar’s Dad’s Expeditions seem like elaborate, meaningless games, but they enable Oskar to function in the world, rather than becoming overwhelmed by everything. The Expeditions also help Oskar and his father bond, because these puzzles and clues give them a shared language through which they can communicate. By seeing the world as a puzzle with possible solutions, instead of a chasm, Oskar also has the sense that his dad has never really left him, and that by following anything that seems like a potential clue, Oskar can eventually find his father again. Dad’s “Expeditions” give Oskar the inspiration to take the key in the closet as a clue that sets him on a new quest.

There were four more messages from him: one at 9:12, one at 9:31, one at 9:46, and one at 10:04. I listened to them, and listened to them again, and then before I had time to figure out what to do, or even what to think or feel, the phone started ringing.
It was 10:26:47.
I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was him.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad
Related Symbols: Telephones
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Not only is Oskar obsessed with puzzles and believes that his dad has left him a treasure hunt to solve, Jonathan Safran Foer constructs the novel itself to be like a puzzle, placing enigmatic pieces of information throughout the book that only get fully explained as the novel progresses. Oskar jumps back and forth in time as he narrates the events of the morning of September 11, and since he does not name the precise date at first, the reader has to figure out from the context exactly what event Oskar is talking about. Oskar says that Dad has left five messages, but at this point, he presents one of these messages in full. The reader also does not yet know whether or not Oskar will pick up the phone when his father starts calling at 10:26 AM, since this is where the chapter ends. Just like Oskar, who is frozen in indecision and shock when he sees his father’s name on the caller ID after listening to so many messages, the reader gets the sensation of being frozen by being left in suspense at the end of the chapter.

The fact that Dad left messages on the answering machine on September 11, and the fact that Oskar came home in time to hear them, are secrets that Oskar keeps locked inside himself throughout the novel. Oskar hangs onto these phone messages from his father, and they become one of the forces driving his quest over the course of the book. 

Chapter 3 Quotes

And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved them, so if the device of the person in the ambulance detected the device of the person he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and might even die, the ambulance could flash GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU! GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU!

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker)
Related Symbols: Science, Mathematics, and Invention
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

The devices that Oskar imagines are often whimsical and seem tangential, but they typically represent something that is deeply important to Oskar’s subconscious mind. In the case of the ambulance siren that blasts an important message from the person dying inside, the invention represents an idealized version of the messages that Oskar’s father left on the answering machine on September 11. Oskar feels incredibly guilty both that his father left these messages and that Oskar didn’t pick up the phone when he had the final opportunity to speak to his father. Oskar is preoccupied with getting closure for his father’s death, and he wishes that his father had left a very clear message saying goodbye, rather than a series of messages asking if anyone were there to pick up the phone. Oskar knows that he could not have done anything to stop his father’s death, but he still feels guilty because the final words from his father were so unresolved. An ambulance siren that blasts canned but unambiguous messages to loved ones would help those left behind feel more at peace and able to move forward, rather than being trapped in an emotional limbo land.

Chapter 5 Quotes

When I was exactly halfway across the Fifty-ninth Street Bridge, I thought about how a millimeter behind me was Manhattan and a millimeter in front of me was Queens. So what’s the name of the parts of New York—exactly half through the Midtown Tunnel, exactly halfway over the Brooklyn Bridge, the exact middle of the Staten Island Ferry when it’s exactly halfway between Manhattan and Staten Island—that aren’t in any borough?

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker)
Related Symbols: Science, Mathematics, and Invention
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Oskar again shows his tendency towards whimsical scientific questions and the ritualized ordering of spaces, through which he tries to make sense of emotional issues. At this point in the novel, Jonathan Safran Foer also inserts a picture of several bridge girders in a lattice pattern, and through them, one can see part of the New York skyline, though, of course, missing the Twin Towers.

On the one hand, there are several layers of supporting structures holding the bridges up, which makes the "connective tissue" between the boroughs seem very strong. However, since the bridges are all in lattice structures, the viewer can also see through the gaps between the beams, which makes the reader aware of the empty spaces as well. Throughout the novel, in all of the various plots, Foer emphasizes that there must be a balance of positive and negative space, between something and nothing, in order to create true, lasting stability. The space in the middle of every borough, on the one hand, could be thought of as a kind of a black hole, a void that belongs to no one and thus has a terrifying power to destroy those who enter. On the other hand, the space could belong to everyone, so rather than sucking people into no man’s land dangerously, it could be a trusting space supported by all.

Chapter 7 Quotes

I felt, that night, on that stage, under that skull, incredibly close to everything in the universe, but also extremely alone. I wondered, for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it? What’s so horrible about being dead forever, and not feeling anything, and not even dreaming? What’s so great about feeling and dreaming?

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker)
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

In his school’s production of Hamlet, Oskar portrays Yorick, the dead jester whose skull gets exhumed in the final act of the play. Playing the role of a dead character is both funny and morbid, given Oskar’s fascination with death and obsession with the death of his father throughout the novel. Oskar is precocious and hyper-verbal, as his narration demonstrates, yet a great deal of his brilliance stays inside his own imagination. The reader gets to see what he is thinking about, but the outside world doesn’t get access to Oskar’s mind. For Hamlet, Yorick’s “infinite jest” can now only exist in the imagination, since Yorick is dead. Oskar can only recall his father in memory, rather than interacting with him in real life.

Beyond the character of Yorick, there are several parallel themes between Hamlet and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Just like Hamlet, Oskar is haunted by the ghost of his father. Oskar is angry at his mother for beginning a relationship with another man soon after his dad died. Oskar’s meditations about feeling and dreaming echo Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy, in which Hamlet wonders aloud whether it is worth it to live or die—"to sleep, perchance to dream," as Oskar almost says here.

But still, it gave me heavy, heavy boots. Dad wasn’t a Great Man, not like Winston Churchill, whoever he was. Dad was just someone who ran a family jewelry business. Just an ordinary dad. But I wished so much, then, that he had been Great. I wished he’d been famous, famous like a movie star, which is what he deserved. I wished Mr. Black had written about him, and risked his life to tell the world about him, and had reminders of him around his apartment.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad, Mr. Black
Related Symbols: Letters, Notes, and Notebooks
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel, “heavy boots” are a personal metaphor for the sadness and guilt that Oskar undergoes, primarily due to the trauma of his father’s death and the events that unfold from that. Oskar spends a great deal of the novel walking around New York City to process his trauma, and he expresses his psychological burdens physically. The phrase “heavy boots” refers to both sadness and guilt for Oskar. “Heavy boots” is also subtly reminiscent of World War II, as the phrase could potentially evoke the army, or people marching through concentration camps in chains. Oskar is likely not aware of this association, but throughout the novel, the parallel trauma to September 11 is the Dresden bombing, and “heavy boots” calls to mind images of war prisoners and war as well as personal guilt and the feeling of "heaviness" that comes with depression or grief.

Oskar wishes that Mr. Black somehow magically had a card about his father, since this would prove that Dad had planted the key as a clue for Oskar to trace around New York City. Oskar’s description of the writing that he wants to see about his father is, however, a description of the very novel that the reader is reading.

Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close. Maybe twenty of them. Maybe more. But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker)
Page Number: 165
Explanation and Analysis:

The description of the flock of birds recalls the title of the book, although with the word “fast” instead of “loud,” because Oskar sees the birds, rather than hearing them. The birds are symbolic, but they do not represent one single thing. Like many of the enigmatic clues and images throughout the novel, the birds have several layers of significance. At this point in the novel, Foer inserts a blurry picture of several birds flying past, apparently going very fast, as though they are falling. The image of the birds resembles the flipbook at the very end of the novel that depicts a person who appears to be falling up into one of the Twin Towers. On the other hand, the birds represent freedom. Unlike Oskar, who feels tethered to the ground with his “heavy boots,” the birds can take off, seemingly able to escape guilt and difficult emotions to begin a new life. 

Chapter 9 Quotes

I adjusted the string so the keys—one to the apartment, one to I-didn’t-know-what—rested against my heart, which was nice, except the only thing was that it felt too cold sometimes, so I put a Band-Aid on that part of my chest, and the keys rested on that.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker)
Related Symbols: Keys
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

The fact that Oskar keeps the key over a Band-Aid over his heart is very symbolic for several reasons. Although Oskar claims that the Band-Aid is to protect his skin when the key bumps against it, symbolically, the Band-Aid suggests that Oskar is trying to heal his broken heart, which broke on “the worst day,” that is, September 11. Oskar keeps the key on his chest for the practical reason that he knows it will be safe and he knows he can keep track of it, but symbolically, carrying the key right over his heart shows how precious this object is to him. Not only is the key the engine that drives the quest to find the right Black and unlock the box, the key also represents Oskar trying to come to terms with himself and figuring out how to unlock the secrets he has kept locked inside himself. Carrying the key is creating a physical wound on Oskar’s chest, but carrying the locked-up secrets is creating an even deeper psychological wound inside Oskar’s heart.

Chapter 11 Quotes

A millimeter at a time, the Sixth Borough receded from New York…The eight bridges between Manhattan and the Sixth Borough strained and finally crumbled, one at a time, into the water. The tunnels were pulled too thin to hold anything at all. The phone and electrical lines snapped…those fireflies in glass jars, which had once been used merely for decorative purposes during the festivals of the leap, were now found in every room of every home, taking the place of artificial light.

Related Characters: Dad (speaker), Oskar Schell
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:

Oskar’s Dad tells Oskar a fable about a mythical Sixth Borough of New York City. In the first chapter of the novel, Oskar describes the scene in which Dad tells him the story, but only now does the reader get to read the full story, which emphasizes the puzzle-like structure of the novel itself. The story of the Sixth Borough is very close to the center of the novel itself, which demonstrates its symbolic significance in all the various relationships and plot lines that unfold. Dad tells the story to Oskar to help Oskar process the fact that change might be sad, and we might fight to stop negative change, but ultimately, sometimes, we have to let go. When Dad tells Oskar this fable, Oskar doesn’t yet know that he will have to apply it to his relationship with his father, but the story of the Sixth Borough symbolically helps him move forward.

The fable of the Sixth Borough also resonates with the areas of Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment that are designated as Something versus Nothing. Although Grandma and Grandpa try to hold the ties between them and to keep their relationship together, their shared grief proves to be too strong a force, and it pulls them apart. Just like the tunnels and electric wires in the fable, the lines of communication between Grandma and Grandpa cannot hold. 

By the time the park found its current resting place, every single one of the children had fallen asleep, and the park was a mosaic of their dreams.

Related Characters: Dad (speaker), Oskar Schell
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

In the fable of the Sixth Borough, the children ultimately have the power to help New York move forward from the loss of a borough. Rather than simply having an empty space in the heart of the city, the citizens save Central Park before the Sixth Borough floats completely away, tethering it in Manhattan. Children are allowed to lie down on the park when it’s being floated into the city, and the children are the ones who keep the soul of the Sixth Borough alive. The children bring beauty and spirit into the story, which helps give Oskar a sense of purpose. Oskar often feels small and powerless, which makes him frustrated and frightened, but turning the children into almost magical creatures helps him to regain a sense of purpose and power. Dreams, here, are not fantasies that will never come to pass, but peaceful reconciliations with reality.

In addition to the fable holding personal significance for Oskar and his family, in the larger context of the novel, the fable is meant to demonstrate how all of New York might be able to heal after September 11. Oskar’s own personal trauma is one individual example of the thousands and thousands of similar stories unfolding across the city.

Chapter 13 Quotes

I want to stop inventing. If I could know how he died, exactly how he died, I wouldn’t have to invent him dying…There were so many different ways to die, and I just need to know which was his.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Grandpa, Dad
Related Symbols: Science, Mathematics, and Invention
Page Number: 257
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel, invention and telling stories have been a source of comfort and security for Oskar. However, in the quest to come to terms with his father’s death, Oskar is frustrated by his fruitless obsession with imagined scenarios, and he wants the truth to set him free. He fixates on his father’s mode of death because it provides a concrete clue that gives him focus and purpose, rather than the depressing concept of seeing everything as a meaningless void. Oskar gets the idea to dig up his father’s coffin, which makes Oskar's role in Hamlet as the dead skull of Yorick all the more symbolically, if morbidly, appropriate.

Oskar is speaking to a man whom he calls “the renter,” since he only knows him as the man who is staying with Grandma. Unbeknownst to Oskar, however, “the renter” is actually Oskar’s grandfather, and although he thinks he is entrusting his story with a stranger, he is instead confiding to his father’s father, which is about the closest to his father that he can get in real life.

Chapter 15 Quotes

OSKAR SCHELL: SON

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Mr. Black
Related Symbols: Letters, Notes, and Notebooks
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:

Foer not only writes about what many of Mr. Black's business cards or index cards (which contain brief biographical information about people he considers "significant") say and look like, but he also places an image of these cards directly into the novel. Mr. Black’s card describing Oskar resembles in size and shape the business cards that Oskar makes for himself. Oskar’s business card also begins with his name, but underneath it he has packed many descriptions, including inventor, jewelry designer, percussionist, and amateur archaeologist. Throughout the novel, Oskar takes all the roles he describes himself as having and many more. Mr. Black does not have a comprehensively detailed description on every card, but rather, exactly the opposite. He has a vast library of people in his card catalog, and all of them are distilled to one essential description. Oskar may, indeed, do many things and have many traits—but being a son is Oskar’s primary motivation, and being a son is a very complex, layered job that gets at the root of everything Oskar does. Oskar spends the majority of the novel on a quest to discover the mystery of the key in his closet, which is a quest designed to bring him closer to his dead father. But being a son is also about being there for his mother, who is still alive, yet is mostly silent in the background for much of the novel. Even though Oskar concentrates explicitly on looking for clues about his father, it is his mother who is there for him, and whom he has to be there for in the present.

He needed me, and I couldn’t pick up. I just couldn’t pick up. I just couldn’t. Are you there? He asked eleven times. I know, because I’ve counted. It’s one more than I can count on my fingers….Sometimes I think he knew I was there. Maybe he kept saying it to give me time to get brave enough to pick it up.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad, William Black
Related Symbols: Telephones
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

When Oskar gives William Black the key from the vase, Oskar symbolically unlocks the secret that he has been carrying inside him throughout his entire quest. Oskar confesses to William that his father had called their family’s phone right until the moment that the Twin Towers came down. By telling William his secret as well as giving William the actual key, the key has fulfilled its purpose in the novel, both physically and symbolically.

As it turns out, Oskar had the answer to the mystery of the key for nearly the entirety of his quest, but he didn’t know it. Abby Black had left Oskar a message on the answering machine, but Oskar had been too traumatized to listen, because he was haunted by the guilt of his father’s voice on that same answering machine. But Oskar’s mom had heard Abby’s message, and, unbeknownst to Oskar, had been calling every person named Black in the city and preparing him or her for Oskar’s visit. When Oskar gives away the physical key, he not only relieves himself of his burden, but he also unlocks the closed door between himself and his relationship with his mother.

Chapter 16 Quotes

Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar.
It’s always necessary.
I love you,
Grandma

Related Characters: Grandma (speaker), Oskar Schell
Related Symbols: Letters, Notes, and Notebooks
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the novel, Oskar’s grandmother has been writing a long letter to Oskar to try and tell him about her past and her relationship with Oskar’s grandfather, which is very difficult for her to talk about. This quote is the ending of the letter. Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather have finally reunited, and they are sitting across from each other in the airport, typing on their respective typewriters. Part of the reason that Oskar has been so obsessed with searching for clues about his father is that he wants to find some closure and so that he can feel at peace with their relationship. Oskar never got to say goodbye before his father died, a fact which haunts Oskar—and this lack of clarity and closure plagues many relationships throughout the novel. Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather have a very troubled relationship in part because they cease being able to communicate with each other, and there are so many walls between them.

Oskar’s grandmother doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and so she makes sure to communicate everything that she can to Oskar, or everything that she feels like she hasn’t previously been able to say, in this letter. “It’s always necessary” refers, in context, to the fact that she wished she had been able to say “I love you” to her sister. Grandma is determined not to make that mistake with Oskar. Rather than assume that there will always be more time in the future to say what she really means, Grandma takes the time now to express her feelings in the present. Grandma is trying to reassure Oskar and provide closure so that he and she both don’t obsessively try to rewind time.

Chapter 17 Quotes

I’d have said “Dad?” backwards, which would have sounded the same as “Dad” forward.
He would have told me the story of the Sixth Borough, from the voice in the can at the end to the beginning, from “I love you” to “Once upon a time…”
We would have been safe.

Related Characters: Oskar Schell (speaker), Dad
Page Number: 326
Explanation and Analysis:

The last words of the novel express the desired fulfillment of many of Oskar’s deepest wishes. Oskar longs to turn back time and reverse the course of history so that his father wouldn’t have had to die on September 11. By rewinding and telling the story backwards, Oskar wants to take control over uncontrollable events so that history can unfold in a different direction. But these final words also express the fact that Oskar’s wishes can’t be fulfilled. The quotation is in the subjunctive mood, rather than the indicative, which demonstrates that Oskar is presenting a wish rather than a fact. Throughout the novel, Oskar has learned that we can’t actually go back and reverse the course of history. Even though the book ends in a fantasy description of what Oskar wishes the world could be like, the reader knows that we have to move forward in reality.

Although these are the last words in the book, they are not the book’s ending. The book concludes with several photographs of a person falling from the Twin Towers, but arranged in reverse order, so that if the reader flips through them, the person appears to be falling up instead of down. This reversal of the familiar image shows the tension between fantasy and the poignant reality that all characters struggle with throughout the novel. Even though they wish they could reverse time and space in certain key moments, and even though they replay events in their minds, they have to figure out some way of moving forward in order to heal.

Get the entire Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close LitChart as a printable PDF.
Extremely loud and incredibly close.pdf.medium

Oskar Schell Character Timeline in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The timeline below shows where the character Oskar Schell appears in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1, “What The?”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The novel launches right into Oskar’s mind: the reader jumps from idea to idea to idea, without getting introduced to what’s... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Oskar describes his first jujitsu class, which is also his last jujitsu class, as kicking his... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Thinking about his tambourine and his Dad’s death makes Oskar free associate about death in general: he ruminates about all the dead people throughout history,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar describes the limousine ride to the cemetery for his Dad’s funeral. He chatters at Gerald,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Mom asks Oskar why Oskar has given a spare set of keys to the mailwoman; though Oskar is... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar briefly mentions the second time that he was in a limo—when he and “the renter”... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar eventually arranged all the random objects and connects the dots to spell “FRAGILE,” which makes... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar then begins to describe the letters he began to write after “the worst day” (that... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar describes the last story that his Dad ever told him, about New York City’s sixth... (full context)
Chapter 2, “Why I’m Not Where You Are (5/21/63)”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
This chapter is set in 1963, so Oskar must no longer be the narrator. (The reader doesn’t know it yet, but the narrator... (full context)
Chapter 3, “Googolplex”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar is the narrator of this chapter. He describes the bracelet he made for Mom after... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Since his Dad’s death, Oskar has had trouble with several triggering things, like showers, crossing suspension bridges, and being around... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...he’s never seen before. The vase breaks, but when no one comes to chastise him, Oskar, out of relief and guilt, gives himself a bruise. When he starts to clean up,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The next morning, Oskar fakes sick—the first lie he has to tell, he reports—and goes to the locksmith to... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
When Oskar returns home, Stan, the doorman, gives him mail: a form letter from Ringo Starr with... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar calculates that there are 162 million locks in New York City, and it would take... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar retrieves the envelope that the key had been in and sees the word “Black” written... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The next day, Oskar fakes being sick again to his Mom so that he can skip school. They chat... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar goes to the art supply store because he wants to ask them about colors. The... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar notices that one of the pages has his Dad’s name, “Thomas Schell,” on it. (The... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Back at home, Oskar discovers 472 people in New York with the name “Black,” living at 216 different addresses.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Trying to fall asleep, Oskar flips through pictures in his Stuff That Happened to Me binder, and Jonathan Safran Foer... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar listens to Dad’s phone messages again. He keeps the phone inside his closet—he didn’t want... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar’s Grandma lives in the building just across from him, so he can see it through... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar and Grandma talk for a bit over the walkie-talkies, as they do very often. Oskar... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar puts the key from the vase on the string around his neck, next to his... (full context)
Chapter 5, “The Only Animal”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar is the narrator in this chapter. Oskar remembers reading the first chapter of A Brief... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Oskar puts together a field kit, including a flash light, ChapStick, his cell phone, iodine pills,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar makes it to Queens and buzzes for A. Black. Oskar asks the man who answers... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar walks for two hours and twenty-three minutes to get to Abby Black’s house on Bedford... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
A man calls from the other room, but Abby doesn’t pay attention. When Oskar finds a bit of dust in the kitchen, Abby gets embarrassed, causing Oskar to launch... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar compliments Abby on a photograph of an elephant hanging on the wall, causing him to... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Abby begins to cry. Her husband continues to yell, and she continues to ignore him. Oskar tells her that’s he’s twelve, because “I wanted to be old enough for her to... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar invites Abby to the fall play his class is putting on, Hamlet, which will be... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar goes over to Grandma’s apartment when he gets home. She’s just been crying. She tells... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar remembers that Grandma used to take care of him when he was a baby. Once,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
After Dad died, Oskar explains to the reader, Oskar and his Mom went to Oskar’s Dad’s storage facility, where... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar remembers how his Grandma knits him white clothes and finds special things for him. She... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
That night, Oskar stays up designing jewelry, and he can’t stop thinking about his Dad’s storage facility. He... (full context)
Chapter 7, Heavier Boots
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar narrates this chapter. Twelve weekends after visiting Abby Black, Oskar’s class has its first performance... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar imagines an elaborate alternate version of the play in which Yorick wreaks his revenge on... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Twelve weeks earlier, Oskar had gone to visit Abe Black in Coney Island. He took a cab to get... (full context)
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Abe convinces Oskar to ride the Cyclone with him, even though Oskar is terrified. There’s a photograph of... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Abe drives Oskar to Ada Black’s apartment in Manhattan. Ada tells Oskar that she is the “467th-richest person... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar tells the maid, Gail, that her uniform is beautiful, but when Gail leaves, Ada tells... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The next Black lives just one floor above Oskar, in 6A. Stan, the doorman, tells Oskar that he’s never seen anyone go in and... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Mr. Black, who is quite talkative, tells Oskar facts about his life rapid-fire (all ending in exclamation points). Oskar is mesmerized. He thinks... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Mr. Black shows Oskar his biographical index: thousands of cards with one word and a one-word biography. For example:... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar goes to the bathroom and surreptitiously tries the key on several keyholes in the apartment,... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar’s key is reaching toward the bed: there are so many nails that they are exerting... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar finds out that Mr. Black hasn’t left the apartment for twenty-four years, which makes him... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar turns on the hearing aids for him. A flock of birds flies by the window,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
That night, Oskar and his Mom fight as Oskar’s Mom is tucking him into bed. Mom tells him... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar and Mom start to make up, but the fight escalates when Oskar says that she... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar tries to take it back, but Mom is hurt. Eventually, he falls asleep on the... (full context)
Chapter 8, “My Feelings”
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
The narrator of this chapter is Grandma, writing a letter to Oskar from the airport (continued from the previous “My Feelings” chapter, Chapter 4). They are announcing... (full context)
Chapter 9, “Happiness, Happiness”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The chapter begins with an interview of a Hiroshima survivor. Oskar is playing the recording for his classmates at school. The woman in the interview describes... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
After the recording, the girls in Oskar’s class are crying, and the boys are making barfing noises. Oskar explains scientific aspects of... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar explains that dark things burn more than lighter things, because dark absorbs light; in a... (full context)
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Jimmy Snyder asks Oskar who Buckminster is, and when Oskar says, “Buckminster is my pussy,” the kids crack up.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...the apartment upstairs) continue the search. They take the train to the Bronx, which makes Oskar very panicky, though he manages to get through it. When they get to Agnes Black’s... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar and Mr. Black leave, but Oskar makes Mr. Black turn around after three blocks to... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...meet Albert Black and Alice Black, but neither one of them knows about the key. Oskar asks Alice if he can kiss her. Oskar receives a letter from Gary Franklin, a... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Allen Black is a doorman for a building on Central Park South. Oskar helps him set up an email account. As Oskar is leaving, Allen says, “Good luck,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
On Tuesday, Oskar has an appointment with his therapist, Dr. Fein. Dr. Fein asks Oskar about Oskar’s emotions,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
That night, Oskar listens to one of Dad’s messages again—the one left at 9:46 AM—and waits for Saturday,... (full context)
Chapter 10, “Why I’m Not Where You Are (4/12/78)”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
This letter, by Oskar’s Grandpa, has red pen circles around many words and phrases, as though someone had gone... (full context)
Chapter 11, “The Sixth Borough”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
In the first chapter of the novel, Oskar alludes to his Dad telling him the story of the Sixth Borough, and this chapter... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Dad tells Oskar that the Sixth Borough was an island separated from Manhattan by a thin body of... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Dad tells Oskar there are lots of clues in Central Park to its mysterious origin, like its strange... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...planet, it frames whatever is underneath it. The island is completely frozen now, he tells Oskar. (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar asks Dad if any of the things that he dug up from Central Park were... (full context)
Chapter 12, “My Feelings”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Grandma narrates this chapter, and she’s writing to Oskar. She describes where she was when the plane hit the World Trade Center: she was... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar’s Mom calls, asking if Grandma has heard from Dad; neither of them has. Mom tells... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Mom comes home and asks if Oskar’s Dad had called. Oskar says no, and also says no when Mom asks if there... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
While Mom is gone, Grandma waits with Oskar. When Oskar falls asleep, Grandma turns on the television but puts it on silent. The... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...writes about Dad’s funeral sometime later, in which they buried Dad’s empty coffin. That night, Oskar walks Grandma to her front door, and the doorman gives her a letter that a... (full context)
Chapter 13, “Alive and Alone”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
After six and a half months of searching for the key together, Mr. Black tells Oskar that he is finished, which makes Oskar feel incredibly lonely. Oskar goes up to Grandma’s... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar hears a sound coming from the guest room and realizes that it must be the... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar stands in the hall, and Grandpa stands in the room: “The door was open, but... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar decides to tell the old man––that is, Grandpa–– the whole story of his expedition, starting... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Then, Oskar describes Ruth Black, whose address is the eighty-sixth floor of the Empire State Building. Oskar... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar has no idea who Ruth might be, but he has a hunch when he sees... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
When Mr. Black and Oskar return home, Mr. Black tells Oskar that he’s finished searching. Oskar screams an obscenity at... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar, surprising himself, runs home and gets the phone with Dad’s messages on it. Oskar plays... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar says that he wants to know how Dad died so he can stop inventing how... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Grandpa writes Oskar a note asking Oskar not to tell Grandma that they’d met. Grandpa also writes that... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar tries to sleep, but keeps inventing different ideas, like frozen planes and skyscrapers with moving... (full context)
Chapter 14, “Why I’m Not Where You Are (9/11/03)”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...opens with a few pages from Grandpa’s daybook, which are phrases he had written to Oskar in the previous chapter: “I don’t speak, I’m sorry”; “My name is Thomas”; “I’m still... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...Grandpa to tell the whole story, he writes. Grandpa asks Grandma if he can meet Oskar, but she says no; however, she shows him how he can see Oskar through the... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...spends most of his time walking around the city, and then he begins to follow Oskar. When Oskar starts going on his expedition, Grandpa follows him; he makes a map of... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
One day, Grandpa writes, when Oskar and the old man (Mr. Black) go into the Empire State Building, Grandpa waits for... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Grandpa returns to the point in the story when Oskar meets Grandpa, only knowing him as “the renter.” That night, Grandma and Grandpa make love.... (full context)
Chapter 15, “A Simple Solution to an Impossible Problem”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The day after “the renter” (Grandpa) and Oskar dig up Dad’s grave, Oskar goes to Mr. Black’s apartment to tell him what happened,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar goes to the index of biographies Mr. Black kept and takes out Mr. Black’s card.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
The last Black Oskar visited was Peter, in Harlem. Peter was sitting on the stoop when Oskar arrived, holding... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
When Oskar comes home that night, he looks at the telephone (the new one, not the old... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar tells Mom that he’s going out, and Mom doesn’t protest, even when Oskar says he’ll... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Abby says that her husband knows about the key, but on the day when Oskar had visited eight months ago, she couldn’t tell Oskar about it, because she was having... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar asks Abby why her message on the answering machine had cut off in the middle,... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar goes to Abby Black’s husband’s office. The husband, William Black, works on foreign markets, which... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar shows William the key. William asks Oskar if he found it in a blue vase.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...and that Dad was planning to give the vase as an anniversary gift to Mom. Oskar wishes that William could remember every tiny detail about Dad. William tried for a long... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
William invites Oskar to go with him to the bank to open the box, but Oskar declines: he’s... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar tells William that his Dad had left five messages on the answering machine on the... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar asks William if he forgives him for not being able to tell anyone about the... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
That night, Oskar meets the renter (Grandpa, that is) under the streetlamp to discuss the details of their... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Grandpa gives Oskar a letter. It’s from Stephen Hawking, who thanks Oskar for all the letters that he’s... (full context)
Chapter 16, “My Feelings”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...but Grandma knew the whole time. Grandpa also tells Grandma that he has been seeing Oskar, but Grandma knows that, too. Grandpa says that last night, he and Oskar dug up... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...from Grandpa at a table at the airport. When she is typing the letter to Oskar, Grandma writes, she is choosing Oskar over Grandpa, because she can’t see Grandpa’s face. She... (full context)
Chapter 17, “Beautiful and True”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
During dinner with Mom and Ron, Oskar finds out that Ron’s wife and daughter had died in a car accident. Ron and... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar has packed a backpack and gathered all his supplies together to dig up the coffin.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
At the cemetery, it takes twenty minutes just to find Dad’s grave. Oskar and Grandpa start digging, but after an hour, they’ve barely gotten anywhere. The flashlight runs... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar is surprised that the coffin is wet and cracked in a few places. The lid... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
It’s 4:12 AM when Oskar returns home. Mom is on the sofa, awake, but doesn’t ask Oskar where he’s been.... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...her that he was on the street, out of the building, even though he wasn’t. Oskar cries, and Mom carries him to bed. Oskar tells her that it’s okay if she... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar gets out his binder of Stuff That Happened to Me, which is full. He finds... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Trauma and Guilt Theme Icon
Superstition and Ritual Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
Oskar imagines what it would be like if time worked like that: if the man had... (full context)