Study Guide

Everything Is Illuminated Literature and Writing

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Literature and Writing

You'd think every book would be about literature and writing, but there are some literary characters whom we don't think have ever cracked a book. (Anastasia Steele says she loves British literature, but honestly, where does she find the time?)

One of the main characters in Everything is Illuminated, however, is a writer. A writer named Jonathan Safran Foer. That's right: there's a character in this book named after the author of the book. That's a big flag that this is going to be a literary journey. In this book, we not only read about Jonathan's journey, we read what he's writing about the journey. Get ready for some hardcore bookception, Shmoopers.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Does the (sometimes unintentional) humor from Alex add to the story, or take away from the seriousness of its subject matter?
  2. Which writing style did you like more? Alex's or Jonathan's? Which is more "literary"? What does it even mean to be "literary"?
  3. Why does Jonathan write the story about Trachimbrod?
  4. Why do you think Alex suggests that he was born to be a writer and Jonathan wasn't? Does Alex find himself a better writer?
  5. Why does Yankel write fake letters from the wife who left him? Do you think he starts to believe them?

Chew on This

Everything is Illuminated isn't really about the story; it's about how the story is told.

Even though the story Jonathan creates about Trachimbrod is fictional, that doesn't mean it's not true.