The Chosen Study Guide

The Chosen By Chaim Potok

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC; sometime in the early 40's. Reuven Malter (a.k.a. Robert or Bobby, a Modern Orthodox Jew) and Daniel Saunders (Danny, a Hasidic Jew) meet for the first time as rivals in a baseball game that turns into a religious war. Reuven pitches, and Danny hits a line drive that shatters Reuven's glasses and sends him to the hospital. Danny visits Reuven in the hospital, where Reuven rejects Danny's apology. The two struggle to accept one another, and slowly a friendship develops.

Danny spends his spare time reading in the library; he tells Reuven of a man he met in the library that recommends books to him, and it turns out to be Reuven's father, David. Danny admits that he doesn't want to inherit his father's position as leader of his sect, and tells Reuven that Danny's father doesn't ever talk to him outside of the study of Jewish law - and never has.

Isaac, Danny's father, welcomes Reuven as Danny's friend, but disapproves of his father's work. He warns Reuven that being Danny's friend will not be easy, and Reuven soon learns how true this is. Over time, Isaac and Reuven impress one another.

Reuven soon experiences the 'pain of silence' himself, when he speaks favorably of the Zionist movement, which his father vehemently opposes. When Isaac makes a pro-Zionist speech and is featured in newspapers, David forbids Danny to speak to Reuven or even mention his name. Danny breaks the rule once: to tell Reuven why he cannot speak to or of him. During the two years of the ban, Reuven goes through all of the steps of grief in extremes before learning to cope with the loss of his friend.

After modern Israel is founded, Danny explains to Reuven that, since the new nation is a fact, not an argument, the ban has been lifted. Revuen talks to Danny about silence, and Danny admits that he has adapted to his father's silence, and that it can be a source of beauty and insight as well as pain.

Reuven learns from Issac the reason for his silence: Isaac learned early on that Danny's intellect was outstripping his ability to empathize with others. He wanted Danny to understand the meaning of pain and want, so he deliberately shut him out. When Issac finally realized that Danny 'has a heart' and cared deeply for others, Isaac relented, and accepted Danny as a son, even accepting that Danny had no desire to accept his father's mantle as a religious leader.

As Danny, who has cut his Hasidic locks and is wearing modern clothing, leaves for Columbia University, he visits Reuven, who contrariwise has decided that he wants to be a rabbi. Danny explains that his entire relationship with his father has changed. "We talk now," he says. He is finally free, and Reuven is finally accepting his place. They have both tasted pain and silence profoundly, and both know the consolation of a deep and lasting friendship which they both know will survive their lifetimes.

Need more help? Read questions and answers from fellow students below. If you're question hasn't already been asked, ask it now.

Report This
+1
1
-1
227
answers
Report This
+1
1
-1
0
answers

chapter one