Oskar’s Mom, a lawyer, has a different type of relationship with Oskar than he had had with his Dad: Oskar’s Dad sent him around the city on expeditions, and they had lots of special rituals with each other, but, in contrast, Oskar and his Mom don’t really have their own secret codes and inside jokes. Mom tries to fill some of the void that Dad left—she offers to check the New York Times for typos with Oskar, just like he and Dad used to do—but it’s not the same. Oskar is also mad at Mom because she has started seeing a new boyfriend, Ron; Oskar thinks that she’s not properly grieving. For most of the novel, Mom seems as though she’s an absentee parent: she never asks Oskar where he’s going, and never acts concerned when he’s out for hours and hours at a time by himself. Even Oskar wonders at her apparent lack of concern about his whereabouts—and though it’s helpful in terms of his quest, he seems a little disappointed that she doesn’t seem to care where he is. Unbeknownst to Oskar, his Mom knows about his whole journey to find the key from nearly the very beginning of his quest, and she’s been one step ahead of him the entire time. She called all the Blacks ahead of time to let them know that Oskar was coming, which is why so many of them seemed so suspiciously prepared to see him. Mom also makes sure that Oskar goes to therapy and convinces Dr. Fein not to hospitalize him, but rather to allow him to work through his grief in his own way. Even though Mom seems like she’s removed and out of touch for most of the novel, it turns out that Mom does indeed loves Oskar deeply and that she has been very present in his life the entire time—she’s just been behind the scenes, watching out for him. Mom loves Oskar so much that she can let him figure out life his own way, without her interference.
The timeline below shows where the character Mom appears in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1, “What The?”
Chapter 3, “Googolplex”
Chapter 5, “The Only Animal”
Chapter 7, Heavier Boots
...Blacks whom he’s met in the previous weeks are in the audience for opening night; Mom and Grandma come, too. For the following performances, only Grandma comes, and she embarrasses Oskar... (full context)
Chapter 12, “My Feelings”
Chapter 15, “A Simple Solution to an Impossible Problem”
Chapter 17, “Beautiful and True”