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If you examine the point-of-view of Oskar's mom, what are some quotes...

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mkj317 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 16, 2011 at 9:57 AM via web

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If you examine the point-of-view of Oskar's mom, what are some quotes that have to relate to "her feelings" in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?

Quotes can include things she says or things other characters have said.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 22, 2011 at 3:39 AM (Answer #1)

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To examine Oskar's mother's point-of-view through the use of her own dialogue and the dialogue of others, about her, is to look at two aspects of indirect characterization. Oskar's mother is one of the most mysterious characters in the book, as she, unlike others, is not revealed through first person letters nor narration.  Remember also that every glimpse of her that we get is directly through the traumatized eyes of 9 year old Oskar.  If she is a hard character to understand anyway, than her son's perception of her should not be viewed as completely accurate.

That said, Mrs. Schell could best be described in the book as a woman who is sad, distant (from everyone, possibly), and suffering from a deep sense of guilt.  It is not clear if the 9/11 tragedy and losing her husband caused these characteristics, or merely heightened them.  I suspect the latter.

One of the best ways to see the character of Mrs. Schell is to watch the way she interacts with her son, whom (he believes) she can never understand as well as his father did.  In conversation with him, she is very patient and usually apologetic.  Oskar often engages her in petty arguments, lies to her, and even gets away with disrespect due to her guilt.  Notice a typical conversation (from page 70):

She said, "There's nothing wrong with someone needing a friend."  "Are you actually talking about Ron now?"  ... "No, Oskar. I'm not.  And I don't appreciate that tone."  "I wasn't using a tone."  "You were using your accusatory tone."  "I don't even know what 'accusatory' means, so how could that be my tone?"

Her point-of-view is strictly that of a mother, who must hold herself and her family together in the face of tragedy.  She must learn to cope with her own grief and allow her son to cope with his.  Ironically, at the end of the story, it appears Oskar's mother has known of Oskar's lies all along, and was simply allowing him to work out his grief in whatever way he knew how.  She admits after Oskar asks if she wonders where he's been, "I trust you," and adds, "I assume you'd tell me if you wanted me to know."  In her final lines of the book she tells Oskar his "dad would have been very proud of you," solidifying that though he is unaware, she understands her son much more than she could probably ever show.

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