Subject Material

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Published: 02.11.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017

Where were you 9/11 2001? Even if you were a kid back then, you'll probably remember. On July 22, Norway experienced its own 9/11 and your whereabouts will no doubt be chiseled into your minds forever. How do unpredictable, traumatic events affect us, and in particular children? This is how Jonathan Safran's Foer's Oskar (9) copes with the loss of his dad who died in the Twin Towers. After meeting Oskar in the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, you will find a link to Maynard's The Usual Rules where you'll meet Wendy (13) who lost her mother in the Towers.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close PosterExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close Poster

  1. Watch the trailer (below) from Amazon where Jonathan Safran Foer is interviewed about his child protagonist, Oskar (9) from his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. 
  2.  Read the brief excerpt from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Amazon presents the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by a brief film with the author Jonathan Safran Foer.  Here he explains how he was inspired to write about Oskar Schell.

Oskar is an extraordinary child in many ways. He loves French and one of his dearest idols is the physicist Stephen Hawkings. To cope with his feeling of guilt for not picking up the phone when his dad called from the Twin Towers and the loss of his best friend, his dad, he starts a quest to find a lock matching his dad's key. Oskar believes that the lock belongs to someone by the surname "Black" that can reveal more about whom his dad was.  After watching the video, answer the questions.

Jonathan Safran Foer on Amazon (video)


  1. What made Foer choose a child protagonist?
  2. Why did he choose 9/11 as a setting?
  3. What does the author and Oskar have in common? What is different?
  4. Why do you think Oskar was obsessed by the idea of finding Mr. or Mrs. Black?                                          


Read this short dialogue from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close between Oskar (O) and his mum (M) after Ron (the mum's friend) has moved in with them. Answer the questions afterwards.

O: "I miss Dad."
M: "So do I."  
O: "Do you?"      
M: "Of course I do."
O: "But do you really?"    
M: "How could you ask that?"    
O: "It's just that you act like  you don't miss him very much."
M: ".What are you talking about?"         
O: "I think you know what I am talking about." 
M: "I don't."               
O: "I hear you laughing." 
M: "You hear me laughing?"   
O: "In the living room. With Ron."    
M: "You think because I laugh every now and then I don't miss Dad? I cry a lot, too, you know."      
O: "I don't see you cry a lot." 
M: "Maybe that's because I don't want you to see me cry a lot."
O: "Why not?"  
M: "Because that isn't fair to either of us."  
O:  "Yes it is."                   
M: "I want us to move on. I am trying to find ways to be happy. Laughing makes me happy."
O: "I'm  not trying to find ways to be happy, and I won't."
M: "Well you should."    
O: "Why?"   
M: "Because Dad would want you to be happy?"  
O: "Dad would want me to remember him."



  1. Why do you think Oskar starts this conversation with: "I miss Dad."?
  2. Describe the tone in this conversation.
  3. What is Oskar accusing his mum of without saying so? Do you think this has anything to do with Ron?
  4. What do you think about their different ways of mourning? 

The Usual Rules (Joyce Maynard)

By following this link you will find an excerpt from Maynard's novel and meet her child protagonist Wendy (13) who lost her mum in the Twin Towers, September 11th - Through the Eyes of Wendy (13).


By following this link you will find further tasks to Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Maynard's The Usual Rules with child protagonists that have to face with the aftermath of 9/11,  September 11th - Through the Eyes of a Child.


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