Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Questions and Answers
by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close book cover
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In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, why does Oskar's grandfather write letters to "his unborn child"? Is it Anna's unborn child or Oskar's father?

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The exact identity of the unborn child is never actually spelled out. It could be the child that Grandpa's first wife Anna was carrying when she was killed in the firebombing of Dresden, or it could be Thomas, Oskar's dad, Grandpa's son with his second wife.

Thomas is an unborn child in the sense that his father refuses to acknowledge his existence. When he married for the second time—mainly for companionship, certainly not out of love—he laid down some ground rules for his new wife. And one of those rules was that they wouldn't have children. So when his wife falls pregnant, Grandpa walks out of the marriage.

As to the question of why Grandpa writes all these letters—though he only actually sends one of them—it's mainly because he still has so much he wants to say. But because of the deeply traumatic experiences he suffered during wartime, which have haunted him ever since, he's unable to communicate verbally, relying on hand gestures, written notes, and the words YES and NO tattooed on his palms. Writing things down is a way for Grandpa to say the things he needs to say—a way of getting things off his chest without actually having to say them out loud.

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