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“Boroughs and Neighbors”: Protagonist Trauma Jonathan Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is often viewed and criticized and adored due to its focus on the 9/11 Terrorist Attack. Many people believe the United States faced a traumatic event due to conflicting views. Published in the summer of 2009, Matthew Mullins article “Boroughs and Neighbors: Traumatic Solidarity in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” provided his readers with the insight of violence and how Foer uses his protagonist in his story to identify the traumatic experiences he went through.
Mullins explains how Foer had a “us versus them” (Mullins) mentality which could result to more violence and trauma. “Foer contests an “us versus them” reaction to trauma because the self-perceived “us” identity is far more complicated four months after the event than four days after the event.” (Mullins) As I read this article, Mullins had a lot of strengths and weaknesses. For example, Mullins was very educated on acts of violence within the United States of America.
I could agree that Foer’s characters in his novel were closely related to reality. “In the wake of the devastating tragedies of September 11, Americans are connected through traumatic solidarity, not only with each other in a common bond of victimization.” (Mullins) In his novel, the 9-year-old boy initially began this quest because he found a small key that labeled “Black”, which was his fathers who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. The young boys traumatic experience of losing his father guided him to find answers and build this bond with those who met him.
Also, the sequence in which the article was written keeps his readers intrigued. Mullins begins with explaining what exactly Foer’s novel is about and succeeds in explaining the violence occurring within the United States and how its compared to the novel. He continues to skim through each part of Oskar’s quest and helps his readers to relate to the protagonist personality and trauma. Despite the strengths of Mullins article, he did not have enough logic or evidence when he stated: “Foer is not as concerned with whether or not we were once a global community as he is with whether or not we can become a global community.” (Mullins) Mullins feels as if Foer didn’t dedicate any part of his story to pre-911, which he did not. But I believe Foer’s novel was based on his feelings and trauma after his father and how the quest fulfilled a void.
When I compared Mullin’s article to Philomela Revisited: Traumatic Iconicity in Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” By Philippe Codde unlike Mullin’s he favors Foer in the sense of the violence he speaks about. Codde understands the traumatic events in which he went through and expressed in his first novel “Everything is Illuminated” and then the following novel “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. Codde states: “Children traumatized by war, for example, cannot possibly testify about their experiences, except in the form of drawings. I would argue that this is precisely what has prompted the controversial form of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and why both of Foer’s novels are such interesting and convincing representations of trauma.” I believe Mullin’s article is a successful source for those considering the background of Foer’s work. He touches bases on both his first and second novels. Both novels reflect Foer personally and can be compared to one another due to the fact each protagonist takes on a quest.
Mullin’s unlike Codde, expressed what he felt each novel was focusing on. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close posits an unbreakable bond both within as well as between nations based on the common experience of trauma.” “Everything Is Illuminated, Foer brings people of seemingly unconnected backgrounds together and emphasizes their similarities.” As I write my research paper, Mullin’s has a lot of useful information. Mullin’s helps describe the idea of Foer’s work being meta-narrative. Although much of his story is fictional, he explores real events. Foer himself is reflected in the main character Osker. But, I would be sure to avoid forcing an opinion on Foer. No person knows what he felt as he wrote his story or what his actual intentions are. What matters in the story is what you believe and don’t believe.
In my opinion, I favor Jonathan Foer’s “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” novel. I agree he focuses a lot on violence and trauma, but that’s what makes history interesting to read.
A lot of information in his stories is fiction, but who’s to say one might not believe it? Maybe a sixth borough did once exist? Mullin’s article “Boroughs and Neighbors: Traumatic Solidarity in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” argues 9/11 is not the only United States traumatic event but those who faced that tragedy, hit home when reading Foer’s novel. As scholars continue to critique his work, I hope they ask more Foer more questions as to “does he have hopes for the world to exist like pre-911?”
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