Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Chapter 6

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Chapter 6

Why I'm Not Where You Are – 5/21/63

  • In case you're not paying attention, this letter is the same date as the one from chapter 3, so it must be from Oskar's grandfather as well.
  • This letter begins with a long stream-of-consciousness rambling about the rules of his marriage, with the phrase "I'm leaving her today" slyly tucked in about halfway down the page.
  • He continues on about their rules, including their decision to designate some places in the apartment "Nothing Places."
  • They created more and more rules and Nothing places until their apartment "was more Nothing than Something" (6.1).
  • He writes that he's sitting in an airport, writing to his unborn son and thinking about his past in Dresden, when he met Anna (Oskar's grandmother's sister).
  • Their fathers knew each other. After he saw Anna the first time, Grandpa walked to her house every day hoping to see her again, but she was never home.
  • It turns out that she had been walking to his house the whole time, which was why he never saw her at home.
  • Back in the present, Grandpa asks someone else the time. Then he thinks about how Grandma's at home writing her own life story on the typewriter.
  • He convinced her to do it, despite her protests that her eyes are bad.
  • She writes and writes and writes, then she shows Grandpa the pages.
  • We get to see them too, three of them in the book, and they're blank.
  • Man, her eyes are bad. Grandpa realizes that he never replaced the typewriter ribbon. She's been pouring out her life onto blank pages and didn't realize it.
  • He can't bear to tell her this, so he just tells her the story is wonderful.
  • Grandpa flashes back again to the first time he and Anna made love in her father's shed, which he'd converted into a library.
  • Within earshot, her father and her father's friend, Simon Goldberg, are talking about the impending war.
  • Back in the near present, Grandpa talks about reading Grandma's life story and pretending to laugh or pretending to cry.
  • Then he writes that he's sorry for everything. For losing Anna. For leaving Grandma and his unborn child. For not being able to read who Grandma dedicated her life story to.
  • He says, "I'll never be your father. […] I can't live. I've tried and I can't" (6.1).
  • He says he'll rip the pages out of his book, put them in an envelope labeled "My Unborn Child" and never write another word again.
  • We, as readers, see a few more pages of his notebook, each with one sentence on them.