Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Chapter 13

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Chapter 13

Alive and Alone

  • After six and a half months, Mr. Black quits the search.
  • Oskar goes to Grandma's apartment, but Grandma isn't there.
  • It's the first time Oskar's been in her apartment without her. He snoops around, and finds a drawer full of empty envelopes, some addressed "to my unborn child" others "to my child."
  • He hears a sound from the guest room and realizes it's the renter. He's real!
  • He's a strange old man named Thomas (like Oskar's dad) who doesn't speak.
  • (We know what Oskar doesn't: that this man is his grandfather.)
  • Oskar decides to tell the man his whole story, from the beginning, starting with the broken vase…
  • We learn about a few more Blacks – Fo Black, Georgia Black, Ray Black – but things get really interesting when we get to Ruth Black.
  • Her address is the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
  • Even though Oskar is super scared to go up that high, he does it.
  • He enjoys the view through the binoculars, but has no idea who Ruth might be.
  • As he and Mr. Black are about to leave, they notice a woman with a clipboard. Oskar asks her name. It's Ruth (hooray!) and she gives them a tour and some history about the Empire State Building.
  • Mr. Black is smitten!
  • Ruth confesses that she lives in the building, in a storage room, ever since her husband died.
  • Mr. Black says that's fine. They can spend an afternoon up in the clouds.
  • When they get home, Mr. Black says he's done searching with Oskar, and Oskar runs over to Grandma's apartment, bringing us back to where we were before the flashback.
  • Then he decides to share one more thing with the renter: the messages his Dad left on the phone.
  • He runs home and gets the phone and brings it back to play them.
  • Oskar tells the renter that he just wants to know how his Dad died, so he can stop inventing how he died.
  • He even wonders if his Dad might be the man in the video of a man falling from the building that he found online.
  • Oskar takes a photo of the old man's hands—with the YES and NO tattoos—and goes back home.
  • The renter gives him a note, asking him not to tell his grandmother that they met. Oskar agrees, and the old man says to throw pebbles at the window if he ever needs him.
  • That night, Oskar has an idea: he wants to dig up his Dad's coffin.