Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Characters

  • Oskar Schell, a precocious nine-year-old whose father dies in the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11th.
  • Oskar's mother, known only as Mom, who withdraws after her husband's death.
  • Thomas Schell, Oskar's father, who leaves five voicemails for his family before dying in the Twin Towers. Oskar's grandfather is also named Thomas Schell.
  • Oskar's grandmother, maiden name Schmidt, who reconnects with her husband after years of being separated.
  • Anna, Oskar's grandmother's sister, who was in love with Oskar's grandfather.

Character Analysis

Most of Foer's novel is told through the nine-year-old Oskar. Oskar is easy to like, at least as a narrator. As a peer, he might be a little hard to take. Many of Oskar's classmates, for instance, find it difficult to understand or accept him. Oskar knows a lot and likes to share his knowledge. He also thinks in ways that most kids, and adults, find rather peculiar. But as a storyteller, the voice of Oskar is both entertaining and fresh. He is able to convey his feelings without sounding like he is begging for sympathy. It is easy to empathize with his pain without feeling like you are being dragged into an emotional swamp.

Oskar's intelligence is seen mostly through his huge imagination and curiosity. He loves solving mysteries but this skill is both a blessing and curse. He can distract himself from his problems by delving into some intriguing puzzle, like the key he found in his father's closet. But he also has trouble getting over his father's death because he is constantly trying to envision how his father died. He feels he cannot rest until he has the answer.

Oskar's openness (which sometimes is not as open as people around him think) invites those around him to be open. True, he flatters women a lot, believing this will help him get what he wants from them; but his flattery also makes the women smile or even laugh, with him, not at him. He makes them feel good. He brings out the best in people, such as he does with Mr. A. R. Black, who has not left his apartment in decades. Sometimes Oskar would like to curse people when they disappoint him or make him mad, but he is smart enough to not allow the thought of revenge go farther than a fantasy. He controls himself and hides his sadness as best he can.

Sometimes repressing his emotions does not work very well. He has nowhere to vent, so he takes out his sadness on himself, giving himself bruises as substitutes for his bruised psyche....

(The entire section is 585 words.)