Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Chapter 2

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Chapter 2

Why I'm Not Where You Are – 5/21/63

  • We must have a different narrator here, as this chapter is set in '63 (1963, we're assuming) and it's a letter starting with "To my unborn child."
  • The narrator tells us about how he lost his speech, word by word, starting with the word "Anna."
  • The last word he could say aloud was "I."
  • To communicate, he had the words YES and NO tattooed on his palms. YES on the left, NO on the right.
  • He carried a notebook around to write in if he needed to say more than YES or NO.
  • By the end of the day, he'd usually run out of pages and have to flip back and recycle phrases from earlier in the day.
  • He'd save the notebooks all over his apartment.
  • Then, whoever's writing this letter tells us about "when I met your mother" (2.1). (Ted? Is that you?)
  • She sits next to him at a bakery and talks about loss, canned tuna, and the weather.
  • When she wonders why our narrator doesn't talk, he writes "I don't speak. I'm sorry" (2.1).
  • She writes in his notebook "Please marry me" (2.1).
  • He tries to protest, but she persists.
  • He wonders about how he lost the love of his life, how he's hopeless and helpless, and he flips to a page in his notebook and puts her finger there: it says "Help."