Everything is Illuminated

Multiple Meanings of Illuminated in Everything is Illuminated 12th Grade

In Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer the theme of illumination is explored by the triple meaning of the word itself. Foer shows how illumination may mean to clarify or explain, to produce actual light, or to embellish something. These multiple meanings of illumination, paired with the book’s triple narrative, help to convey that knowledge pertaining to the past is often being sought after, though answers are rarely found.

The first meaning of illumination Foer plays with is to clarify. This broad term segues into a narrower path when Foer has one of the main characters, Jonathan, travel back to a small town called Trachimbrod to find himself through his past lineage. His travel guide, Alex, finds this confusing and does not see any point in trying to look at a horrible past to find answers. Jonathan explains to Alex why he wants to go back: “I want to see Trachimbrod…To see what it’s like, how my grandfather grew up, where I would be now if it weren’t for the war.” (59) Jonathan tries to place himself out of his actual life and put himself in some fairytale land that he will never know anything about. Jonathan tries to understand the mysteries of his past by searching for a town that is no longer there called...

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