Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Context Paper

Topics: Jonathan Safran Foer, September 11 attacks, New York City Pages: 5 (1104 words) Published: October 9, 2014
Context Paper

Jonathan Safran Foer was born in 1977 in Washington D.C. Foer is the middle son in a Jewish family. His mom was the daughter of a holocaust survivor and his dad was a lawyer. Growing up, Jonathan was always a little bit different. At the age of 8, he was injured in a classroom chemical accident that spiraled into a breakdown lasting about 3 years. During this time he wanted nothing more than to be “out of his own skin.” Foer was inspired to start writing after he started his freshman year at Princeton University, when he enrolled himself into an intro to writing class. His teacher, author Joyce Carol Oats, took an interest in his writings and told him he had “energy”, which she says is an important writing quality. Foer said she was the first person to ever make him feel like he should try writing in a serious way. After that, everything changed. Foer went on to win the Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize and ended up dropping out of medical school to pursue a career in writing. He published his first book in 2002, “Everything is Illuminated”, which was a continuation of his senior thesis essay. In 2005, he published “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” as a tribute to the devastation of the twin towers collapsing. In 1973, the World Trade Center was built. New York City was not the most desirable place to be. Prostitutes and pimps populated the streets along with an economic collapse and a crime-filled subway system. Normally when people think of the 70s’, they think of disco music and funky clothing. The 70s’ in New York City centered around danger, crime, and poverty. It wasn't necessarily a place to brag about or feel proud of. As the years went on, New York became the hotspot for up and coming artists, particularly of the “hip-hop” and “rap” genre. The dangerous feel from the 70s’ faded, and by the late 90s’ transformed into an exciting, fast paced city. That is one of the main reasons New York City became one of the most populated cities in the United States, home to an estimated 8 million people by 2000. Nearly 30 years later, in 2001, tragedy struck when United Airlines flight number 11, coming out of Boston, Massachusetts was hijacked and crashed into the north tower. The Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda coordinated 4 terrorist attacks killing almost 3,000 people and caused at least 10 billion dollars in damages. What was once a highly populated, lively city was now the center of mass destruction. After this immense tragedy the nation came together as a whole. A feeling of patriotism arose from the American people, and no one had ever been more proud to be an American. Pre-9/11, no one was rooting for war. In fact almost everyone was extremely against it. However after the terrorist attacks happened, everyone was pushing for it. In 2005, Jonathan Safran Foer published “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. The story begins after the tragedy and is narrated by a 9-year-old boy, Oscar Schell, whose father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Since his father’s death, Oskar struggles with insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. He refers to this feeling throughout the book as “heavy boots.” One day, while snooping through his father’s closet, he finds a key in a vase. The envelope with the key enclosed has the word “Black” written on it. After careful speculation, and help from the manager at a local supplies store, he concluded that “Black” had to be a last name. He sets out on a journey to contact everyone in New York City who has the name black- in alphabetical order. One of the first people Oskar meets is named Abby Black and instantly befriends her. Though she has no information regarding the key, he continues his search with “the renter”, who we later find out is Oskar’s grandfather. Eight months of searching go by until Oskar receives a voicemail from Abby confessing she was not entirely honest with him, and thinks she can put him in touch with someone who might be able...

Citations: "1970s New York City: The Dangerous & Gritty Streets during a Decade of Decline." NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. .
"Freshman Text: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer  ." About Jonathan Safran Foer. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. .
Solomon, Deborah. "The Rescue Artist", The New York Times, 2005-02-27. Retrieved on 2008-05-24.
"Jonathan Safran Foer." Mother Jones. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. .
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