What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Summary & Study Guide

Nathan Englander
This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.
This section contains 505 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Study Guide

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Summary & Study Guide Description

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Englander, Nathan. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank. Knopf, 2012.

The story begins with an unnamed narrator disagreeing with a visitor, Mark, over the differences between Israel and the United States. With glib sarcasm between them escalating, the narrator’s wife, Deb, and Mark’s wife Lauren prompt the two to change subject, so they begin to discuss their families. We learn that Deb and Lauren went to yeshiva, or Orthodox Jewish school, together in New York, before moving apart. They have recently reconnected, and Mark and Lauren have come from Israel in part to visit the narrator and Deb in South Florida.

As the two couples discuss their families—at one point briefly meeting the narrator and Deb’s teenage son, Trevor—they also begin to drink vodka, reminiscent of Raymond Carver’s famous short story, “What We Talk About What We Talk About Love.” The narrator proves himself to be somewhat biased against Mark and Lauren, refusing to call them by their chosen Hebrew names of Yerucham and Shoshana and commenting sardonically on their Orthodox appearance and behaviors to us readers. However, Mark does not make things easy: the two men continue to argue now and again about aspects of Judaism especially. Deb, meanwhile, expresses a special interest in Mark’s parents, as they are survivors of the Holocaust—a topic which we learn fascinates Deb to an unusual degree.

After some further discussion about the Holocaust, including an anecdote told by Mark about his father that ends with a joke rather than a moral lesson, Deb reveals that they could smoke the pot she found in their son’s room. The narrator, surprised by this secret, feels disoriented, but he and Deb soon reconcile. In a pivotal moment, Mark dismisses Deb’s obsession with the Holocaust by saying that it is not enough to build a Jewish life upon, using Trev as an example; rather, they need to rely on Jewish rituals, like him and Lauren, to prevent intermarriage, the next future danger to Judaism.

Despite the tension, Mark and Deb find common ground, and the four go outside to dance in the warm summer rain. The climax of the story occurs near the end, when they enter the pantry to find snacks. The narrator brings up the “Anne Frank game” that Deb likes to play, wherein she tries to imagine whether or not their Christian friends would hide them in case of another Holocaust. After playing it with a few of their neighbors and business associates, Deb plays it with the narrator, and claims that he would save her. When Lauren and Mark play, however, it becomes clear after a prolonged silence that Lauren does not believe Mark, no longer Jewish in this hypothetical scenario, would risk his life for her and their children. The story ends with the narrator unsure of how to proceed and afraid to exit the room.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 505 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank Study Guide
Copyrights
BookRags
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank from BookRags. (c)2017 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
Follow Us on Facebook