Extremely Loud And Extremely Close By Jonathan Safran Foer

1666 Words 7 Pages
The newfound fame of autism has come with increased visibility and societal understanding; however, it has also trapped the disorder within the confines of metaphor. It is not an uncommon literary technique for authors to use an autistic character as a comparison to discuss the fact that no one is communicating their wants and needs. In his novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer takes this common trope and pushes it one step further. With no semblance of chronology, the novel chronicles three generations of Schells as they navigate through difficult times, including the Bombing of Dresden and the Attack on the World Trade Center. Throughout the novel, relationship after relationship suffers because the characters …show more content…
Having lost his father in the World Trade Center it is no wonder that the nine-year-old is depressed, however, the concept of depression seems too much for his young mind and he instead talks frequently about having “heavy boots” (2). While talking about depression as “wearing heavy boots” may be unconventional, it allows Oskar to express when he is feeling depressed because of his father or “how relatively insignificant life is” (86). Not only does the metaphor help Oskar to express his feelings, it helps him better understand others as well. When Oskar was injured while under her care, his father explained his grandmother’s guilt by telling Oskar that “it gave her incredibly heavy boots” which helped him understand (101). By use of the unconventional metaphor, Oskar is able to think relatively complexly about depression for someone his age, when forced to go to therapy, he thinks “it seemed to [him] that you should wear heavy boots when your dad dies, and if you aren’t wearing heavy boots, then you need help” (200). Despite not understanding the need for help, he is able to communicate to his mother of the reasons why he is sad, from “the dairy products in [their] refrigerator” to the fact that their cat has “no raison d’être”; he is even capable of distinguishing the sadness he feels about Microsoft Windows from the Heavy Boots he feels because of his of his father (42). Although he needs the assistance of his “feelings book”, Oskar is, in fact, in touch enough with his emotions to log the transition from “desperate” to “optimistic, but realistic” to “incredibly alone” over the course of one conversation (171). In that very conversation his mother struggles to accomplish the same goal, responding in anger when what she truly feels is

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