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Thomas' survivor guilt, and the trauma it caused seems to be the keywords when taking a look at the letter. One can almost imagine him writing the letter and getting more and more emotionally involved. Caruth mentions in this connection ''that survival itself [ Thomas desperately writes until he reaches a point where just every word he writes, and the whole letter itself, in which the risk of ''[ In this context, Migner states, that the modern novel makes itself depends on the characters it introduces.
The required forms and structures are derived from the figures presented In contrast to that, Eaglestone concludes his analysis of Foer's novel by stating that the structural aspects presented in Extremely ''mark the failure of the novel to get to the issues'' He uses a brief interpretation of one of the book's central moments namely the return of Oskar's grandfather.
Thomas comes finally back to New York City in , exactly two years after September He plans to see his grandson and his wife, he has left 40 years ago, and wants to begin his ''second life'' Foer with her. The chapter starts off with two black and white photographs 6 which graphically separate the chapter from the previous one.
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Eaglestone states that these ''Sebald-esque photographs both illuminate and illustrate the end point of communication'' Eaglestone's analysis misses the point here. The photographs, which show the words ''Yes'' and ''No'' tattooed on Thomas Schell's hands, rather present a shift of communication methods and conventions, not a total loss of them.
Regarding the character's background, expressing himself by use of 'normal' language is simply ''[.. Due to the fact that the photos of Thomas' hands can be regarded as text, since they -literally- contain it, Uytterschout compares the photos with the book's front cover: ''The hand on the cover is crowded with information: […]'' Filled up with the usual information, such as author and title and colored in a striking, shiny red, the hand on the cover leaves literally no space for anything else7.
Uytterschout contrasts this jammed image to the information on Thomas' hands: ''The meaning of Thomas' life, it seems, can be broken down to a mere ''yes'' or ''no'' and a few gestures. However, one has to keep in mind that Uytterschout might overinterpret here, since the cover might be simply composed the way it is to promote and market the novel.
- Back to Basics: Openings (ChessCafe Back to Basics Chess Series).
- Oskar Schell in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close;
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Personal- and National-level Trauma in Children.
- Navigation menu.
- The Journey 3 (Lessons)!
- Reward Yourself.
- Extremely Loud Incredibly Close By Oskar Schell - Words | Bartleby.
The chapter immediately following the photographs consist of a letter Thomas Shell has written to ''my [his] child'' Foer Uytterschout applies LaCapra's theory of ''writing trauma'' on the presentation of Thomas' letter. He states that ''in literary terms, writing trauma can ''achieve articulation in different combinations and hybridized forms'' These forms start to become clear with the very title of the chapter.
As an aphasic, he simply cannot utter the words he wants to express and needs to rely solely on writing to express himself to the outside world. His only possibility to convey or to ''write his trauma'' Uytterschout 65 is by using structural gimmicks. The first structural aspect that clearly sticks out of the rest of the main body of the letter is when Thomas is asked the purpose of his visit at the airport: ''I wrote in my daybook, ''To mourn,'' and then, ''To mourn try to live,'' [..
Striking out the word ''mourn'' means more for Thomas than just a correction of an error. In fact it is impossible for him to erase the word -and his emotions- constantly. Foer could have simply made him use a pencil, but instead Thomas writes with a permanent pen. This single crossed-out word reflects a crucial message of the book. Oskar's grandfather on the one hand tries to go on with his life, but on the other hand is unable to leave his grief behind.
In this context, Sien Uytterschout quotes Sandra Gilbert by stating that ''[…] writing about traumatic events and sharing experiences with others will never make them undone. Oskar's grandfather shows clear symptoms of survivor guilt see also Uytterschout and Versluys par. Thomas feels guilty for beeing still alive, an important factor of his trauma, which shall later be discussed in more detail in the section concerned with Grandmother Schell.
However, the problem of an adequate expression of feelings is a theme prominent throughout the whole chapter. Eaglestone gives only a brief summary of the passage: [ Disregarding the fact that Eaglestone places the two passages in the wrong order, his analysis fails again, since it is not sufficient and too general. Thomas calling his wife to pour his heart out to her is just another example and strikes the reader by introducing a code language: I pressed ''4, 3, 5, 6,'' she said ''Hello?
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I wanted to reach my hand through the mouthpiece, down the line and into her room, I wanted to reach YES [.. What I wondered, is the sum of my life? His call stresses the fact that he simply cannot talk to his wife, since he is handicapped, but simply taking this notion at face value would mean only scratching the surface. Throughout the novel, it never becomes clear whether Thomas has put himself in this condition deliberately or if he suffers from aphasia due to a shock caused by the bombing of Dresden.
Migner's theory of a structure that is derived from the character s can therefore not only be applied directly to Thomas but to Oskar and -later on- his grandmother as well, since they all make use of distinctive forms and structures. Regarding this, the term 'code', realized concretely by use of a numeric code, and its communicative use can additionally be understood in its linguistic sense.
Communication is based on encoding, sending and decoding. All of the three traumatized characters encode and send their message s differently. Coming back to Thomas, the code he uses in this case displays his angry despair, his sadness and his ''overpowering inability to put his feelings into comprehensible communication'' Uytterschout 70 , yet remains futile, since his wife cannot 'decode' his words. The question is whether Oskar's grandfather stopped talking simply because actually uttering words has failed him profoundly in the past and still disappoints in the present.
The switch of communication from speaking to writing seems to offer unexpected possibilities. Leaving a 'gap' in spoken language is only temporary, and a pause between words can never express a caesura as an actual physical gap that separates written words constantly by banning them on paper. However, throughout the letter Thomas addresses to his son, even writing seems not sufficient: ''There won't be enough pages in this book for me to tell you what I need to tell you, I could write smaller, I 10 Note: The following 2. Is Thomas explaining his incapability of expressing himself, or is Foer explicitly addressing the reader through his character?
The second assumption would clearly contradict Doderer's notion of the modern American novel. He stresses that modern novels are still classified as neorealistic or naturalistic and elicits that modern authors fulfill a function comparable to a camera lens. Never do authors hustle themselves between the reader and a novel's reality This notion yet again leads to the consequence that Extremely is not a realistic novel. The question is if a novel can be realistic at all. Migner states that the very intention of describing something in a realistic way encounters resistances, when it isput into articulation.
The consequence is a reality, which the reader cannot grasp at first sight The creation of this new perception of reality is a crucial aspect in Foer's novel. Whenever the characters in Extremely cannot cope with their reality, this is reflected in the book's structure. Foer's role as an active participant in the presentation of the book's plot can therefore be analyzed as an author who becomes an ''inherent part of the narrated poetic reality [ Even ''writing trauma'' LaCapra qtd in Uytterschout 65 down seems to come to a critical point.
It is hard to say whether writing really failed at this point, or if Thomas just sees no other possibility to express himself. The word adequacy again comes to the fore when analyzing this passage. Thomas' words merge closer and closer together, while the letters become smaller at the same time. By frantically typing over his own words again and again, he soon creates an unreadable black block of letters.
Uytterschout subsumes this as follows: ''As writing fails, visual elements provide an adequate replacement of that which has to remain unsaid and unwritten'' The blackness presented can sure be analyzed as incomprehensibility, since the access to Thomas' thoughts is literally blocked to the reader and even to himself. Uytterschout sees this ''as an attempt on Foer's part to involve the reader as an active participant in the unravelling of trauma'' 71 , while Keith Gessen describes him in this context as ''the ultimate Foer narrator'' All of the interpretations are right, yet it is difficult to tell if the blackness reflects inaccessibility, incomprehensibility, the general psychological state of a trauma victim or even all of it combined.
The overall picture seems to be that of a structure that reflects the fact that ''there is never ''world enough and time'' [original emphasis]'' 61 to talk about everything the writer -in this case writers, namely Thomas Schell and Foer- want to talk about. Even if the overall interpretation of the chapter discussed and Thomas Schell's notebook in general remain controversial, it can surely not be analyzed as Foer's cheap try to use random structural gimmicks to avoid using actual language, as some authors like to subsume it Eaglestone; Munson qtd.
Mitchum Huehls highlights a possible pitfall of Foer's structure, namely that the reader is confronted with ''formal techniques [ For Huehls it seems controversial that the book contains parts which try to perform events for the reader by reproducing them. He mentions that even if Oskar's business card is reproduced in the text, it does not look like a business card at all.
Mixed Messages | The New Yorker
The techniques used are rather ''quasi-performative''. This is also true to Thomas Schell's daybook The problem seems rather obvious: According to Huehls, the novel unintentionally destroys the illusion it tries to create. Oskar's business card can be seen and analyzed as a 'real' card, or just as a box containing text, which pretends to be a business card.
The same is true for grandfather Schell's daybook.
Huehls states that by using the same font as the rest of the novel, Thomas Schell's daybook does not achieve a consistent performativity This notion can of course be applied to every passage that contains deviant structural elements and thus, disassemble every single technique by showing its weaknesses. Huehls, for example elaborates on this, by criticizing that: The grandfather's daybook thus reveals that the text's overall performativity breaks down because sometimes it claims actually to be the thing that we are reading about e. Huehls misses an important fact here: There is no evidence why the reader should regard some passages of the book as representing reality rather than being real.
Even if 12 ''letter'' because he did not actually sent it, but wrote it down in his daybook only. Scheuren 29 Huehls tries to prove his theory by showing the novel's flaws, its reality can at no point of time be put into question. No reader can seriously expect a book to copy reality itself.
Still, the question remains why Foer uses reproduction of textual elements to a varying degree. In some points of the book the structure presented is more elaborate than in other parts, without any identifiable justification. Still the framework of illusion and thus, the structural representation of trauma does not fall apart because of these weaknesses. No modern reader expects a book to accomplish a mimesis of reality , therefore Huehls' theory cannot be agreed on. The text remains performative even if some 'slips' remain present.