ABSTRACT

The roles of mourning and melancholia in Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and the connections that exist between Oskar Schell's initial emotional inertia after the 9/11 attacks and his anxious personality, dominate the current critical conversation surrounding this character. This article, however, seeks to expand this critical conversation by paying due attention to the importance of Oskar's decision to dig up his father's coffin that signifies his movement into mourning. His closeness to the burial site, his one-on-one interaction with the coffin, and his personal realization that the coffin does not contain his father's body is what allows him to move into productive mourning. Through this interaction with burial and commemoration, Oskar realizes that though his father is gone he will never have not existed, and begins to move into productive mourning. Analyzing the importance of burial/commemorative practices in this novel allows a reading that focuses on the productive nature of Oskar's quest, his ultimately promising encounter with loss, and an understanding of America's adjusted approach to burial and commemoration after an instance of terror that resulted in mass death—a frequent contributor to shifts in burial and commemorative practices.

You do not currently have access to this content.