Identity In Jonathan Foer's Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

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Oskar Schell, the main protagonist in Jonathan Foer’s acclaimed book Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, is a creative yet awkward child who lost his father in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. Oskar grows as a person throughout the story, as he goes on one final mission where he faces his biggest fears and challenges his social skills, all while attempting to get closure for his father’s tragic death. Through Foer’s depiction of Oskar, readers gain an in-depth understanding of the character and his identity. The “Who Am I” theory of identity claims that a variety of personal and communal factors, including “individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, [and] social and political contexts” contribute to …show more content…
The inner-most “Me” ring, which consists of genetics and social environment, would include the fact that Oskar shows signs of Asperger’s syndrome as well as his PTSD that results from the 9/11 attacks. All through the novel, the author suggests that Oskar may have some form of autism by including his passions for inventing things, constant playing of the tambourine to calm him down, and, most notably, his visit to the psychiatrist. Although the whole conversation is not shown, his doctor says, “Oskar isn’t…other children…even like being around kids his own age…I’m concerned…hospitalize…” (Foer 206-207). This conversation reveals that the doctor is concerned about Oskar’s social development and communication skills, which implies that Oskar may have a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome. In the second, culture ring, would be Oskar’s family background and traditions. For instance, as with the “Who Am I” theory, the fact that Oskar’s grandparents survived bombings in Germany and are immigrants is relevant to Oskar’s identity. A further instance of family culture is Oskar’s Reconnaissance Expeditions. Essentially, Oskar’s Dad would get Oskar to go around New York City gathering “evidence” to complete a certain objective, which would force Oskar to interact with strangers as well as explore his city (Foer 8). Oskar really enjoyed this adventure and spending time with his Dad, but the cultural aspect of these “missions” make it a key part of his identity. The last ring encompasses how various social facts and institutions impact Oskar’s identity. After the death of his father, Oskar does not want to attend school and makes up lies and excuses as to why he must stay home. He goes against the institution of school by not attending classes after the attacks. Furthermore, Oskar displays increasing concern over his mother’s new boyfriend, Ron, whom Oskar is worried will

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