Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Chapter 15

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Chapter 15

A Simple Solution To An Impossible Problem

  • The day after Oskar and the renter dig up Dad's grave, Oskar goes to Mr. Black to tell him about it.
  • But Mr. Black doesn't live there anymore. (He might have died, but let's pretend he didn't so we don't have to cry again.) People are taking all his stuff away.
  • Oskar runs in and finds his card in the index of biographies: Oskar Schell: Son.
  • He's sad that he didn't get to say goodbye.
  • Oskar tells us that he kept looking after Mr. Black said goodbye.
  • The last Black he visited was in Harlem. Oskar met Peter Black and his baby, Peter Black.
  • Oskar wonders why he isn't named after his father.
  • That evening, he notices a message on the phone: it's from Abby Black (the second Black) saying that she kind of lied to Oskar… she actually can help him with the key.
  • Oskar takes the subway to her apartment (all by himself!) and she tells him that she left the message a long time ago, immediately after he left.
  • But Oskar hadn't heard it because he's scared of the phone.
  • Abby says that her husband can explain everything, but before she explains further, Oskar asks her why the message cut off in the middle.
  • She explains that Oskar's mom answered, and Abby told her the whole story.
  • Now everything makes sense: that's how it seemed like so many of the Blacks knew he was coming (and knew his name even though he hadn't told them).
  • His mother knew about the search and had called everyone to tell them to expect a visit from Oskar.
  • Oskar goes to Abby's husband's office. William Black tells Oskar that his own dad died, and the key goes to his safe-deposit box.
  • William didn't find out about the key until after he sold the vase to Oskar's Dad as part of the estate sale.
  • William spent a lot of time looking for Oskar's Dad (just like Oskar did) but never found him since he, you know, died on September 11.
  • Oskar decides not to go with William to open the box, because that would be too confusing.
  • Instead, he tells William something he'd never told anyone before: that his Dad called while Oskar was home, but Oskar was too scared to answer the phone.
  • His Dad asked "are you there" (15.110) eleven times. Oskar could hear people in the background screaming and crying.
  • The message cuts off at 10:24, the same time when the building came down.
  • William Black gives Oskar a big hug, and Oskar asks if he forgives him for not telling anyone about the last phone call.
  • He does, and Oskar gives him the key.
  • That night, Oskar tells the renter that he wishes he hadn't found the box. And they finalize plans to dig up Dad's grave on the second anniversary of his death.
  • Before Oskar goes up to his apartment, the renter gives him a letter. It's from Stephen Hawking.
  • He thanks Oskar for all his letters and invites him to spend time with him in Cambridge for a few days.