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Novel ”The Chosen” by Chaim Potok

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In the novel, The Chosen, written by Chaim Potok, the reader learns about some important events in Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter’s friendship. One of the most important situations is where Reuven gets hit in his eye with a baseball which Danny has thrown. Another important aspect of their friendship is where Reb Saunders accepts his son’s friendship with Reuven. Another significant event is Reb Saunders explaining why he raises Danny in silence. Finally, the last event is when the Saunder’s family tells Reuven he is not allowed to have anything to do with the Saunders’ family.

The first important event in Danny and Reuven’s friendship starts off at the beginning of the book when the two boys, Danny and Reuven, are playing baseball with their schoolmates and Danny Saunders is standing on the same base as Reuven. Reuven tries to talk to Danny but he calls him an apikorsim. This completely confuses and upsets Reuven because he is extremely offended because the word had meant “originally, a Jew educated in Judaism who denied basic tenets of his faith” (The Chosen, pg. 28). The baseball game comes to an end when Reuven is pitching a ball to Danny and comes back at Reuven and it hits him in the eye and shatters his glasses. Reuven says, “I felt a sharp pain in my left eye when I blinked” (The Chosen, pg. 33). Reuven is severely injured from the ball, and is hospitalized for some time. During Danny’s first visit to the hospital, Reuven is very upset and gives Danny orders to go home.

Danny wants Reuven to listen to his apology because he is miserable about what happens. Mr. Malter finds out how rude Reuven is being towards Danny’s apology and tells Reuven that “You did a foolish thing. You remember what the Talmud says. If a person comes to apologize for having hurt you, you must listen and forgive him” (The Chosen, pg. 64). The second time Danny comes to visit, Reuven listens to what Danny says and is not so angry. Danny explains to Reuven that he does not know why he threw the ball. Now the two boys start having an actual conversation about school and the baseball game. Due to all that has befallen, the event changes both lives forever.

Following the first event, the next situation that happens in Danny and Reuven’s friendship is Reb Saunders accepting Danny and his friend Reuven’s alliance. Both boys are Jewish, but fall under different practices. Reuven is a modern Jew and Danny is a Hasidic Jew. Their families have different beliefs and values that make it very controversial for them to be friends. Hasidic people wear black hats, long black coats, black beards, and ear locks. Hasids believe that they are more superior to other Jews. A person believes that Hasids follow by this definition “They alone had God’s ear and every other Jew was wrong, totally wrong, a sinner, a hypocrite, an apikoros, and doomed, therefore, to burn in hell” (The Chosen, pg. 28). They study the Talmud which is an extensive collection of decisions and opinions of rabbis concerning both civil and religious laws.

On account it is hard for Reb Saunders to appreciate his son’s friendship with Reuven. To both of their benefits Danny invites Reuven to come over to his house to meet Reb, Danny’s father. During this visit Reuven sits through a study session of the Talmud between Danny and his father. When Reuven has a Shabbat meal with Reb Saunders and the men of Danny’s community Reb gives a speech and quizzes Danny as well as Reuven on gematriya. Reuven says, “One of the gematriyot was wrong; the gematriya for ‘prozdor’ is five hundred and three, not five hundred and thirteen” (The Chosen, pg. 134). There is a sense of relief, as if Reuven has passed some test with Reb Saunders. After the study session Reb says he is happy Danny has chosen Reuven as a friend. Having Reb being satisfied with their friendship it makes the event significant because without the approval, their friendship would not achieve its full aptitude.

The next important event that happens in their friendship is when Reuven visits Danny, Reb Saunders asks Reuven if he can tell him what Danny reads because he knows how much time Danny spends in the library and cannot ask his son. Danny believes Reb would have confronted David Malter about Danny’s reading, not him. Reuven tells him how Danny meets his father, who is suggesting books for him to read, but omits how Danny is studying German and planning to read Freud. Reb merely says, “Psychology. Master of the universe, psychology, and Darwin” (The Chosen, pg. 158). He also says, “I can no longer speak to my own son” (The Chosen, pg. 158).

Reb makes Reuven promise not to make a goy out of his son. Reuven tells his father about Reb’s request, and Reuven tells him that Reb has already been talking to Danny about his books through Reuven, but “it is never pleasant to be a buffer” (The Chosen, pg. 161). Reb also explains to Reuven that if Danny is going to be the next tzaddik, he must have compassion for his people who are suffering. Reb tells Reuven that he knows his silence will work with his son. This event is one of the most important situations in the novel because without Reuven, Danny may have never found himself, and the silence may have never come to an end between Danny and his father.

The next important event that happens is Reuven’s cutout of the Saunders family. This sadly occurs because Reuven’s father, David Malter, sturdily believes in Zionism and Reb Saunders is strongly against Zionism. David Malter gives a speech claiming that the slaughter of six million Jews will only have meaning on the day a Jewish state is established. The next day Reuven finds Danny white-faced and grim. He does not talk to Reuven until they go into the bathroom together, where Danny admits that his father had read about David Malter’s speech and had forbidden Danny to have any contact with Reuven. Reuven calls Reb a fanatic, but Danny says that the fanaticism like his father keeps them alive for two thousand years of exile. If the Jews of Palestine have an ounce of that fanaticism they will soon have a Jewish state. Danny and Reuven do not speak for the rest of the semester.

Reuven grows to hate Reb Saunders for having to enforce the separation. The next year, when Reuven registers once again at the college, he sees Danny, who does not acknowledge him. He vows to forget Danny, but he is moved into Rav Gershenson’s Talmud class where Danny’s presence is always felt. David Malter becomes more sick and skeletal. There is a strong sense of relief when the Untied Nations approves the Partition Plan for Palestine, and in subsequent weeks there is a relieving silence at the college. Reuven improves his grades from the previous year, receiving all A’s. Reuven misses Danny deeply and needs support from Danny when his father has a second heart attack. The entire situation shows how powerful Danny and Reuven’s friendship is.

A reader learns about the four important events that occur in Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter’s friendship. All these events are significant in their friendship because regardless of the assortment and struggles they both must deal with, the two friends live and appreciate one another’s friendship that will stay deep within them forever.

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