Study Guide

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Identity

By Jonathan Safran Foer


It's hard to stand out in a city with over 8 million people, but millions of New Yorkers (the people, not the magazine) find a way to do it every day. Even if hundreds of them are named "Black." In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Oskar is trying to figure out who he is at a time when everyone says to him, "You remind us of your dad." But he's not the only one with an identity crisis. Grandpa is trying to come to terms with the great loss he experienced 60 years ago, all while trying to mime everything out like Marcel Marceau, and even Grandma is trying to figure out who she is, which is difficult when her husband really wishes he had married her sister instead.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why does it bother Oskar so much that he reminds people of others?
  2. Why does Oskar remind his Mom of his father?
  3. Is Grandma fine with the fact that she's basically a substitute for her dead sister?

Chew on This

One of the author's goals in writing this book was to make the reader recognize each victim of the 9/11 attacks as individuals.

It's easy to imagine all the citizens of a city as being unknowable and basically the same, but Oskar learns about the unique personality of each Black he meets, making them more than just a means to an end.