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I’m OK”: Levels of Communication and Trauma Recovery in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close stands out from the nationalistic-toned American “9/11 novels”. It depicts the story of a young boy and his grandparents who are left with the aftermath of losing a loved one in the attack on the twin towers. However, the complexity of the three main characters and the depth of their individual and common traumas make the novel go beyond the usual nationalistic 9/11 narrative and focus on the personal and, consequently, the national trauma.  This essay analyses the possibility of coping with and recovering from trauma through communication. Dominick LaCapra’s trauma theory notions of “working through” and “acting out”, as well as other traumatic memory research highlight the necessity of utterance in order to overcome trauma and to attempt an existence beyond it. In the instance of the three traumatized characters of the novel, the confessional language is entangled, broken and sometimes muted. This makes the recovery difficult in the case of the grandparents, almost impossible for the character of Grandpa. When it comes to the young boy, Oskar Schell, a more successful communication seems to open up the possibility of mental healing. These personal traumas are a reflection of a broader American trauma where an obsessive “rememoration” of the September 11 events and one-sided, revenge loaded public discourse do not seem to facilitate the national healing process. On all these levels, personal and community, the need and the difficult attempt to communicate the trauma of 9/11 does not necessarily grant recovery from it, but it facilitates a desired “working though” process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 26 p.
Keyword [en]
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, trauma, trauma theory, 9/11, coping, recovery, “acting out”, “working through”
National Category
General Literature Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-113422OAI: diva2:784893
Available from: 2015-01-31 Created: 2015-01-31 Last updated: 2015-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Shlomo Gross, Mihaela
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