In Nathan Englander's, "Free Fruit for Young Widows," and Tim O'Brien's, "How to Tell a True War Story," one common theme is trauma. Trauma is an emotion/mental shock, after a horrifying event. In these two stories, Professor Tendler ("Free Fruit for Young Widows") and Rat Kiley ("How to Tell a True War Story"), have both gone through traumatizing experiences and have both had tough times overcoming those moments. And in those moments, how that trauma hit them, shaped the rest of their lives. Things to consider are that trauma can happen to anyone. When trauma hits it is not something that can be prepared for. And that trauma is hard to overcome and for many it is something that the victim carries for the rest of their lives. .
In Nathan Englander's, "Free Fruit for Young Widows," Professor Tendler was so young; no one would think that it would be possible for this to happen to him. In Tim O'Brien's, "How to Tell a True War Story," Rat Kiley was a young soldier in a situation no one would wish on their worst enemy. But traumatizing events can happen to anyone, and whether we old or young it still happen. For Professor Tendler he was only 13 years old, he had seen everyone he loved killed in front of him; he had been in a Nazi death camp. "He'd seen his mother killed in front of him, his father, his three sisters, his grandparents, and, after some months in the camp, the two boys that he knew from back home" (Englander 317). To have to go through this at any age is tough, but at thirteen is incomprehensible. Not only that but Tendler was put in a Nazi death camp, and barely survived there. "It was this hill of bodies that had protected him day after day. The poor Sonderkommandos They had brought him the crumbs of their crumbs to keep him going when the corpse that was Professor Tendler at age thirteen- 'your age'- came crawling from that nightmare" (Englander 317).