Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Chapter 3

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Chapter 3

Googolplex

  • We're back to the narrator from chapter one, Oskar.
  • He's been upset that his mom has been spending time with her new "friend," Ron, after Dad's death.
  • Since Dad's death, Oskar has had trouble getting in elevators, crossing bridges, taking showers, and being around Arab people.
  • One night, he decides to rummage around his Dad's closet, and he knocks over a blue vase and it breaks.
  • He's both relieved that his mother didn't hear it, and upset that she's having a good time and not checking on him, so he gives himself a bruise.
  • He does this whenever he feels angry, and he's covered in bruises.
  • There's an envelope inside the vase and a key inside the envelope (and a little old lady who swallowed a spider to swallow a fly…) and Oskar wonders what it goes to.
  • He tries it in all the locks in the apartment, but it's not for any of them.
  • The next morning, he fakes sick to skip school and heads down to the locksmith's store to inquire about the key.
  • Frazer, the locksmith, says it could be for a safe-deposit box, but he's not sure.
  • Oskar does some quick mental calculation and concludes that there are 162 million locks in New York City. It must fit in one of them, right?
  • Back at home, Oskar notices that the envelope the key was in says "Black" on it, but his Dad's handwriting looks weird, like he wrote it in a hurry.
  • The next day, Oskar skips school again to go to the art supply store, because someone there must know about colors.
  • The employee there thinks it's interesting that the person wrote "Black" in red pen. Maybe he's designing a brain training game
  • Also, Black is capitalized, which means it's probably a name, not a color.
  • Oskar flips through a little book next to the pen display, where people have tried out different pens and markers.
  • He notices one of the pages has his Dad's name written on it: Thomas Schell.
  • "His name was everywhere" (3.36). He's tested out pretty much every marker and pen in the store.
  • The confusing thing is that Dad died over a year ago, and the pads of paper haven't been sitting around that long.
  • Back at home, Oskar searches for people named Black in New York, and finds 472 people with that name.
  • He writes a sneaky letter to his French teacher saying that Oskar won't go to French lessons, but they'll still pay him, and he signs his Mom's name.
  • So Oskar decides to spend his weekends finding every Black.
  • To try to get to sleep, he flips through his binder titled Stuff that Happened to Me, which is full of pictures:
    • A wall of keys
    • Stephen Hawking
    • Hamlet
    • A paper airplane
    • Two turtles getting it on
    • Some gems
    • A man falling from a building
    • A picture of New York that looks like Central Park has been removed, leaving only white space
    • A close-up of the man falling from the building
    • The word "purple" written in green ink
    • A tennis player
    • Fingerprints
    • Cave people
    • An astronaut
  • Unable to sleep, Oskar listens to the last messages his Dad left. He keeps the phone inside his closet.
  • He didn't want his mother to hear those messages, so he bought a new phone and hid the old one.
  • He radios his Grandma with a walkie-talkie and wonders why her mysterious renter is out running errands at 4 in the morning (even though he's not supposed to ask questions about her new renter).
  • He tells Grandma that he misses his Dad, and he asks her why Grandpa wanted to leave.
  • Grandma tells Oskar that he had to leave, but she doesn't say why.
  • Oskar puts the key he found on the string around his neck, next to his apartment key, and tries to sleep.