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Nathan Englander's Book What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: The Reunion

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It is always surprising how much people who have known each other for many years have kept from each other about their individual past. In the short story What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank, a reunion of female friends who have been physically estranged for 20 years opens up past secrets that they shared, in front of their husbands, now that both are married. Written from the perspective of the husband, the story shows how the author, who thinks himself as the most liberal person in the room, he quickly finds out that even with his carefree mindset, he is very much alike with his wife’s guests. The following is a journal entry detailing its plot and character descriptions.

The story’s chronology is set in a singular day. On waking up, the author and his wife are graced with the presence of a previously American, now a Jewish Israeli family of his wife’s childhood friend. The author’s first reaction is a cold reception. He takes on a condescending tone towards anything that the visitors say (Englander, 2012). He in particular has impatience with how the visitors make Jewish and Hebrew references that they obviously cannot relate to since they have lived in a non-Jewish community in the United States their entire lives. He also views the Jewish family as pretentious for changing their names. The husband, formerly known as Mark changed his name to Yerucham while the wife changed hers to Shoshana. The author even vows not to call both their new names and even makes a conscious effort not to even when prompted to utter their names.

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Contrary to his prior belief, he finds that even if his family is openly liberal, he could easily understand where his visitors were coming from even if they were orthodox in terms of their religious beliefs. The authors’ thoughts hint towards an atheistic or agnostic philosophy or any form of religious skepticism that makes one to feel entitled to view the religiosity of others as pedantic. The visitors’ anecdote on how their father had been a Nazi prisoner and holocaust survivor and how he had years later chanced upon another former Nazi prisoner in a sports club has been in the story shown to be enough to win the affection of the author. In so doing, it has shown that the author as being whimsical and fickle in character judgment. His social inappropriateness has even been exemplified by his explicit comment that his wife has to now and again correct his verbal socialization by pressing his arm.

However, as the plot of the story develops, the author starts to appreciate the unique perspective that Mark has. He even openly admits that Lauren intrigues her. However, as the plot of the story develops, the author starts to appreciate the unique perspective that Mark has. He even openly admits that Lauren intrigues her. The author finds himself warming up to the visitors at the point where he learns that the visitors enjoy alcohol and are thereby not as uptight as they first seemed. Secondly, he learns that they smoke marijuana quite regularly, which permanently puts them in his graces. However, the big reveal that his wife used to heavily partake in marijuana during her young adulthood makes the author question just how much he knows about people in his life (Englander, 2012). This is compounded by a further reveal that his son smokes marijuana too and that contemporary strains of the drug are stronger. However, even if the self-doubt of the author on his capacity for reading people dissipates with the barrage of jokes and laughter that characterizes the rest of their day, it tell the audience that people are not to be taken at face value.


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