engl437 paper2

engl437 paper2 - Broome 1 Erica Broome Engl437 Research...

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Broome 1 Erica Broome Engl437 Research Essay December 12, 2010 Extremely In Control and Incredibly In Denial After losing his father in a most horrific way, Oskar Schell’s world comes crashing down in front of him. Although he is merely a 9-year-old-boy, the death of his father on September 11 th not only takes away the person in his life that he loved most, but it leaves Oskar with a permanent fear of both ignorance and a lack of control. He goes to great lengths to find “clues” about the world around him, however trivial they may be, and to gather as much information as he can in order to gain a sense of control. After suffering a loss so unexpected, in a way so unthinkable, Oskar resorts to a pursuit of knowledge and total control over his life in an attempt to escape the reality of his father’s death. Throughout the novel, Oskar takes upon himself numerous tasks, most of which are unreasonable and of no real consequence. The one that he is most passionate about becomes his search for the owner of the key inside the envelope labeled “Black.” Before even starting out on his journey all over New York, he calculates that “if I went to two every Saturday, which seemed possible, it would take me about three years to go through all of them. In a year and a half, I would know everything. Or at least know that I had to come up with a new plan (Safran Foer 50).” He cancels his French lessons and dedicates the majority of his time to searching the city for the lock that he hopes will provide some answers. He develops an obsession with finding clues, and believes that the more Blacks he visits, the more knowledge he is collecting, therefore bringing himself closer to understanding his father’s death. His determination and his belief in the power of information are what give him a sense of security and overall control, as he says
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Broome 2 “Even though I knew that there were 161,999,999 locks in New York that it didn’t open, I still felt like it opened everything. Sometimes I liked to touch the key just to know that it was there (200).” Oskar is dependent upon these clues and the tangible nature of knowledge as a tool to gain control and to move forward with his life in the only way he knows how. Oskar also adopts the habit of “inventing,” which is reminiscent of anxious mothers who assume the worst when there is the slightest possibility that something could go wrong. Oskar does not take elevators, ride roller coasters or the Staten Island ferry, and has anxiety attacks about heights. When he and Mr. Black venture to the top of the Empire State Building, Oskar’s mind begins to run away with him: “I couldn’t stop inventing: the elevator cables snapping, the elevator falling, a trampoline at the bottom, us shooting back up, the roof opening like a cereal box, us flying towards parts of the universe that not even Stephen Hawking was sure about… (244)”. Oskar constantly is “inventing” because he believes it is the only way to ensure that there
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2011 for the course ENGL 437 taught by Professor Ontiveros during the Fall '10 term at Maryland.

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engl437 paper2 - Broome 1 Erica Broome Engl437 Research...

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