One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Aaron lives in Queens and relies on machines because of his poor health. He is the first person Oskar interviews.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Abe rides a roller-coaster with the boy and then drives him back to Manhattan.
One of the women Oskar meets through his quest, Abby is also one of the most meaningful. He thinks of her often during the quest (he had asked to kiss her), and she eventually provides the information that helps Oskar find the key's true owner, her ex-husband William Black.
One of the women Oskar meets through his quest, Ada owns two Picasso paintings and an expensive apartment in Manhattan. She reprimands Oskar for speaking condescendingly to her maid Gail.
One of the women Oskar seeks through his quest, Agnes was a waitress who died in the Twin Towers restaurant (Windows on the World) on 09/11.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Albert moved from Montana to New York City to become an actor.
One of the women Oskar meets through his quest, Alice is a charcoal artist.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Allen is a doorman on the Lower East Side, and was a former engineer when he lived in Russia.
Anna was Thomas Schell Sr.’s girlfriend before she died in the Dresden bombings in 1945. She was also Grandma's sister. Both of them are tortured by memories of her.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Arnold refused to help Oskar.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Mr. Black is a strange old fellow who also joins the boy on the journey. He is distinguished by his bizarre habits and library of index cards that define people he has met or admired.
Buckminster is the Schell family cat.
Edmund was William Black’s father; his death prompted William to sell the blue vase that held the key.
Dr. Fein is Oskar’s physiatrist who suggests he keep a “feeling book,” and tells Oskar’s mother that she should consider hospitalizing him.
An elderly woman who lives in Agnes Black’s old apartment, Feliz tells Oskar and Mr. Black about Agnes’s death.
Gail is Ada Black’s maid, to whom Oskar speaks condescendingly.
One of the women Oskar meets through his quest, Georgia is a Staten Island resident who built a museum to her husband in her living room.
The professional limo driver who brought Oskar and his family to the cemetery for Thomas Schell Jr.’s funeral, Gerald also later brings Oskar and Thomas Schell Sr. to the cemetery to help dig up Thomas Jr.'s grave.
Oskar's unnamed Grandma is mother to Thomas Schell Jr. and wife to Thomas Schell Sr. One of the novel's three narrators, she tells of growing up in Dresden, marrying Thomas, and losing him. Oskar becomes the epicenter of her life after Thomas Jr.'s death.
see Thomas Schell Sr.
A celebrated anthropologist known for her work with chimpanzees, Jane replies to Oskar’s letter to support his scientific efforts.
Jimmy is a bully in Oskar's class, and the boy who plays Hamlet in the school play.
Mr. Keegan is Oskar’s teacher.
Masako is Tomoyasu’s daughter, who died after the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.
Oskar's unnamed mother is often tangential to the main plot, but is eventually revealed as prime force in the story. Though Oskar believes she has abandoned him, he eventually comes to realize that she is dealing with her own extreme grief and that she is always aware of what he is doing. She is an attorney with a demanding job.
The nine-year-old protagonist and central narrator, Oskar is a troubled adolescent coping with the tragic death of his father, Thomas Schell Jr. His imaginative outlook is balanced by the excessive grief that consumes him. He suffers from many neuroses and phobias, and bruises himself when depressed. Though somewhat obsessed with death and pain, Oskar inspires many people whom he meets during his journey, and eventually learns to deal with his grief.
One of the men Oskar meets through his quest, Peter lives in Harlem with his infant son. He is the final person Oskar interviews.
see Thomas Schell Sr.
Mr. Richter was Thomas Schell Sr.’s friend when he first moved to New York City, and the man who encouraged him to return to sculpting.
Ron is Oskar’s mother’s new friend/boyfriend. Oskar resents him terribly. His family was killed in a car accident.
One of the women Oskar meets through his quest, Ruth is a recluse who has lived in a storage room at the top of the Empire State Building since her husband's death.
Simon was a friend of Anna’s father and a well known intellectual in 1940's Germany. A Jew, he hid in Anna's father's shed, and encouraged a young Thomas Schell Sr. to pursue his dream of becoming a sculptor.
Stan is the friendly doorman of Oskar’s building.
A renowned astrophysicist and the popular author of A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking is also Oskar's scientific hero. Oskar writes to Hawking throughout the novel, and Hawking eventually replies with an inspiring note.
Thomas Schell Jr. is Oskar’s father, who perished in the attacks of 09/11. Though he features only in memories, he is the focus of each narrator's anguish. He was an intellectual and emotionally open person, who sent Oskar on quests that the boy eventually understands as meant to encourage his emotional growth. He owned and managed a jewelry store.
Oskar's Grandpa, Thomas Schell, Sr., is a survivor of the Dresden bombing of 1945, wife to Grandma, former boyfriend to Anna, and father to Thomas Schell Jr. He is one of the novel's three narrators, and tells of losing his speech and then living a life of fear that led him to abandon his unborn son. He eventually joins Oskar's quest and gains some closure there.
A survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Tomoyasu gave a recorded interview of her experience, which Oskar features in a school presentation on atrocities.
Walt is the locksmith who helped Oskar analyze the key.
William is Abby Black’s ex-husband, and son to Edmund Black. He finally explains the mystery of the key to Oskar.
A German man who killed himself after losing much of his family in the 1945 Dresden bombings, Anna's father is presented (by Grandma and Thomas Schell Sr.) as a kind and thoughtful man.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Since he answered all questions asked of him through his notebook (yes and no were tattooed on his palms), he would try to use his answers over again. Only writing one answer per page made this easier to accomplish.
The novel reinforces theme of family through suggestions of other family tragedies. Thomas Sr. and Grandma both experienced great loss during the Dresden bombings, and their lives provide distinct examples of how one might react to such grief....
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.