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Free Fruit for Young Widows

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by

Gwen McCarthy

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of Free Fruit for Young Widows

Nathan Englander
• Born 1970 Long Island, Florida
• Grew up as a part of the Orthodox Jewish community
• Was raised by a very protective mother, who made it clear to him that if he crosses the street, he would die
• Lived in Israel for 5 years
• Went to a religious school
• American short story writer
• Currently a distinguished writer in residence at New York University.
• 2012 recipient of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
• Finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”
• Jewish
o He writes a lot about the Jewish life, for example “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”
• Has also written a play “The Twenty-Seventh Man”

Biography
Free Fruit for Young Widows revolves around a war veteran named Shimmy and his son Etgar in Jerusalem. Throughout the story Shimmy tells his son stories about his time in the war and about his good friend Professor Tendler. Shimmy is a very generous and kind man and because of the times he spent in the war he has seen many husbands die leaving young widows to fend for themselves. Because of his generosity and kindness he gives free fruit and produce to young widows to helpthem through the struggles of life. He also gives free fruit to professor Tendler because he knows the hardships he has been through in the war. Etgar Shimmy’s son also continues to provide free fruit for Professor Tendler long after Shimmy dies.
Summary
Theme
Two themes are present
Change
Loss of innocence: Etgar tries to understand why his father treats Professor Tendler so well, especially after their violent past. As the story progresses, Etgar realizes his fathers compassion for Professor Tendler, and changes his opinion based on the new perspective he has been given. It shows the change Etgar goes through, but the developing story of Tendler's life shows his continued loss of his humanity and he loses who he is.


Characters
• Shimmy:
friend of Tendler and father of Etgar
Very forgiving
Part of the Second World War
• Tendler: friend of Shimmy
Survived a death camp by hiding in corpses
Lost humility due to the war and was incapable of showing mercy
Tendler is an empty shell of a man, his soul, spirit and entire being have died long ago
• Etgar: son of Shimmy
Works with his father at the fruit and vegetable cart
Naïve character that the story does not go into much depth about yet plays a key role


Aaron, Jonathan, Dylan, Gwen
Free Fruit for Young Widows by Nathan Englander
Point of View
• In third person objective, meaning it shows the reader every character’s actions
• The narrative itself is almost like a character; supplying a slight bit of humour in an otherwise grim and gloomy story

Literary Devices
Dénouement
: When Etgar finally understands Tendler’s story and why his father treated him with such care just as he did with the widows.
Dynamic character
: Etgar throughout the story was leading up to the realization that though people may seem one way there is another way to look at them and that perspective plays a huge role in understanding people
Anaphora
: repetition of the same phrase two or more times in a sentence

Conflict
Classical
• Tendler surviving WWII (both physical and psychologically)
• Tendler surviving after WWII
Psychological
• Etgar trying to rationalize his father’s actions towards Professor Tendler
• Etgar trying to understand Professor Tendler’s actions


Mood/Atmosphere
• Starts off low-spirited (all the horrors Professor Tendler has to deal with)
• Ends is uplifting (Etgar’s continued donation of free fruit to Professor Tendler)
Setting
There are four settings
The first is likely in the 1970s or 1980s, although no date is given. It is in a Jerusalem marketplace
The other three settings are flashbacks
The first flashback is in 1950s Egypt during the battle of the Suez Canal, a British trading route
The second was at a dreary concentration camp during WWII while it was being liberated
The last was at Professor Tendler's old home after the war
The End
Full transcript