Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Science, Mathematics, and Invention Symbol Analysis

Science, Mathematics, and Invention Symbol Icon
Oskar is obsessed with scientific ideas and objects: he loves Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, he names his cat Buckminster (after the inventor Buckminster Fuller), and he is constantly “inventing” new ways to improve things. Many of these “inventions” are modifications that might have saved his Dad from dying, or to mitigate the effect of his loss; for example, Oskar imagines a “birdseed shirt” so that humans, who don’t have wings, can make a quick escape (the birds will latch onto the shirt, presumably, giving the wearer a ride). Oskar is an atheist, but he believes fervently in science as an absolute, true force that organizes the world. Oskar charts many aspects of his world very precisely: he makes frequent lists and keeps track of statistics for everything, like the amount of dust his apartment generates in a year (112 pounds). Science offers both Oskar and other characters in the novel something concrete to hold onto in the midst of chaos. Science and math create factual certainties where emotions might be very shaky and uncertain; listing facts about the world becomes a comforting ritual and a way to organize reality into concrete, discrete blocks, even if the facts aren’t comforting in and of themselves.

Science, Mathematics, and Invention Quotes in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close quotes below all refer to the symbol of Science, Mathematics, and Invention. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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“Well, what I get is why we do exist? I don’t mean how, but why.” I watched the fireflies of his thoughts orbit his head. He said, “We exist because we exist.” “What the?” “We could imagine all sorts of universes like this one, but this is the one that happened.”

Related Symbols: Science, Mathematics, and Invention
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Science, Mathematics, and Invention Symbol Timeline in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The timeline below shows where the symbol Science, Mathematics, and Invention 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
...getting introduced to what’s going on. In rapid-fire succession, Oskar gives several ideas for new inventions or improvements on the world: for example, he describes a teakettle that sings melodies, an... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...after “the worst day” (that is, September 11, 2001). Oskar writes his first letter to Stephen Hawking , who sends a form letter in reply. Oskar is so delighted with the form... (full context)
Chapter 3, “Googolplex”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...binder, and Jonathan Safran Foer includes the pictures in the chapter: a wall of keys, Stephen Hawking , Hamlet, a blueprint of a paper airplane, two turtles making love, a box of... (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 History of Time when Dad was alive, and they discuss doing something relatively insignificant: even though it might... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...a bit of dust in the kitchen, Abby gets embarrassed, causing Oskar to launch into statistics about the amount of dust his apartment had produced in a year (112 pounds). Abby... (full context)
Chapter 9, “Happiness, Happiness”
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...girls in Oskar’s class are crying, and the boys are making barfing noises. Oskar explains scientific aspects of the explosion, such as the fact that scientists could determine where the explosion... (full context)
Mortality and the Purpose of Life Theme Icon
Puzzles and Cleverness Theme Icon
Language and Communication Theme Icon
...were burned out. Oskar has had the effect replicated by die-cutting the first page of A Brief History of Time in Japanese translation. (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. There’s 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
...remember having told the man his name. At home, he has received a letter from Jane Goodall. Oskar puts a Band-Aid on the part of his chest that the keys rest against,... (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
...a tour, recounting the history of the Empire State Building: she describes its architecture, gives statistics about its structure, and tells them several cultural facts about the building. When the official... (full context)
Chapter 15, “A Simple Solution to an Impossible Problem”
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 sent over the past two... (full context)