In Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, two contrasting characters are introducedâ€”Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. They are opposites. While Reuven is forwardâ€”speaking his mind, Danny Saunders shows a stark contrastâ€”an inflective soul, listening to silence, and growing from it. These characters set the stage for a lasting relationship to form, to be strengthened, and to be stressed. Danny’s father’s name is Reb Saunders. The tzaddik of a small community within close proximity of Reuven’s home, he was born in Russia and later brought his congregation to America.
When Danny is speaking to Reuven, he tells him the story of this occurrence. “They bribed their way though Russia, Austria, France, Belgium, and England. Five months later, they arrived in New York City. ” This was the original catalyst for the relationship between Reuven and Danny. If Reb hadn’t brought his congregation to America, ever, Danny and Reuven would not have met in anything close to the same circumstances.
When introducing the reader to the novel, Reuven explains why the inter-parish softball leagues were formed by the Jewish parochial schools after World War II. â€¦America’s entry into the Second World War and the desire this bred on the part of some English teachers in the Jewish parochial schools to show the gentile world that yeshiva students were as physically fit, despite there long hours of study, as any other American student. They went about probing this by organizing the Jewish parochial schools in and around our area into competitive leagues, and once every two weeks the schools would compete against one another in a variety of sports. ” This was the second factor in the friendship.
It would be unlikely for the matter of a soft-ball league to be considered on the part of Reb Saunders if he had not seen any particular reason. On Danny’s second visit to the hospital, Danny and Reuven talk about matters of common interest. While on the topic of the baseball game, Reuven asks how he learned to hit a ball. “‘I practiced,’ he said. ‘You don’t know how many hours I spent learning how to field and hit a baseball. ‘” After this statement is avowed, Danny makes the comment to Reuven that he could have ducked the ball. Reuven responds with: “I remembered the fraction of a second when I had brought my glove up in front of my face.
I could have jumped aside and avoided the ball completely. I hadn’t thought to do that, though. I hadn’t wanted Danny Saunders to make me look like Schwartzie. ” After Reuven initially wakes up, Danny visits him in the hospital to apologize. “‘I am sorry,’ he said quietly. ‘I’ll just bet you are,’ I told him. Heâ€¦turned and walked slowly away. ” After Reuven tells his father of the events, his father tells him that he should have listened.
This response on David’s part initially caused Reuven to listen to Danny when he returned the second time. “‘You did a foolish thing, Reuven,’he told me sternly. You remember what the Talmud says. If a person comes to apologize for having hurt you, you must listen and forgive him. ‘ ‘I couldn’t help it, abba. ‘ ‘You hate him so much you could say those things to him? ‘ ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, feeling miserable. ” As with playing the “What If” game asking “what if” incessantly to explore each aspect of a situation, so did a chain of events occur that caused this relationship to form. The first act was not a “what if” but was the original occurrence. It was Danny’s father, Reb, bringing his parish to New York.
If he had not done so, Danny and Reuven would have no chance of meeting. The second event was the “Americanization” of the Jewish parochial schools after the Second World War. Again, if this had not happened, Danny would have had a slimmer chance of meeting Reuven, but since they lived in the same neighborhood and since Reuven’s father knew Danny they may have met. The third occurrence was Danny’s practicing. If Danny had not practiced, he, most likely, would not have hit the ball fiercely, straight at Reuven. The fourth occurrence was the actual scheduled game.
If that game had not been scheduled, Reuven would not have been beaned with the ball by Danny. The fifth occurrence was Reuven’s pride causing him to refuse to duck. If he had ducked and successfully missed the ball, he would not have gotten glass in his eye. The sixth occurrence was Danny’s apologetic nature. If Danny had not been apologetic and visited him in the hospital, he would not have formally met Reuven. The seventh occurrence was Reuven’s father’s advice to listen to Danny. If Reuven’s father had not instructed him to listen, Reuven could have remained angry and he may have not listened.
Mixed with Reuven’s father’s advice, however, was Danny’s persistence, if Danny had not returned, Reuven would not have had a chance to listen. There are many factors that countered into the strengthening of the relationship between Danny and Reuven. Going with the saying “opposites have a certain magnetism for each other”; we can state that Reuven and Danny are opposites in the matters of: religious sect of Judaism and the manner in which they were raised. Reuven was a Zionist and although Danny says that he wishes he could join the Zionist group at the university, he is a Hasid.
Reuven and his father talk frequently, but Danny and his father only speak during Talmud discussions. Even though Danny and Reuven do oppose in those two matters, they are both intelligent and they both have a fancy for, basically, the same literature. Another strengthener of the relationship between Danny and Reuven is Reuven’s father, David’s, talk about a brilliant man named Solomon. Solomon compared to Danny because he wanted to learn and he read philosophy and other such books. Solomon learned German in order to read original texts and he wandered the world forever to finally die an early death. ‘This boy, Reuven, was brilliant, literally a genius. His name was Solomon, and later in life he changed his long Polish name to Maimonâ€¦'” The point of the story was to reinforce the importance of the friendship cultivating between Danny and Reuven.
The final factor in the strengthening of the relationship between Danny and Reuven is Danny’s father, Reb’s, approval of Reuven. When Reuven is invited to Danny’s house, he is publicly asked which statement in a speech was incorrect. “‘Nu, Reuven,’ he said quietly, ‘tell me, which one was not good? ‘ ‘One of the gematriyot was wrong,’ I saidâ€¦ ‘And which one was it? he asked me quietly. ‘The gematriyot for ‘prozdor’ is five hundred and three, not five hundred and thirteen,’ I answered. When he answers correctly, he gains the general respect of the audience and Reb, though Reb says later that he wouldn’t mind if he answered incorrectly. The last part of the cycle of the comradeship between Danny and Reuven is the stress upon the relationship. Once more, many factors come into play with this part. To start with, David Malter’s speech on Zionism causes Reb Saunders to “excommunicate” the Malter family. “My father’s speech had done it.
Reb Saunders didn’t mind his son reading forbidden books, but never would he let his son be the friend of the son of a man who was advocating the establishment of a secular Jewish state run by Jewish goyim. ” This quote is Reuven’s thought process after he finds out that he is no longer allowed to commune with Danny. The following stressor to the relationship between Reuven and Danny is Reuven’s inability to understand “listening to silence”. “‘You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn”t always talk.
Sometimesâ€”sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to. ‘” Over the course of the novel, Danny repeatedly explains and hints at the concept of “listening to silence”. As Reuven shows multiple times that he doesn’t understand Danny’s “reverence”, a bit of tension grows. The finally stressor on the relationship between Danny and Reuven is David’s logically questioning Danny about his decision not to become a Rabbi. “‘Then you must know exactly what you will tell him. Think carefully of what you will say.
Think what your father’s questions will be. Think what he will be most concerned aboutâ€¦'” When David persistently asks Danny questions as Danny half-answers, anxiety is created as the significance of the questions is revealed. All of these factors put stress on the relationship, initially, and in the end strengthened it. The first mentioned, was the difference between Danny and Reuven’s religions. Although they were both Jewish, the novel shows that there were perceptible differences. The next mentioned was Reuven’s inability to understand “listening to silence”.
Although Reuven may not have seen significance, Danny found silence to be very important, even related to wisdom. The final stressor mentioned was David’s methodological questioning of Danny at the end of the novel. It created tension in an already stressful situation, although helpful. Danny and Reuven’s friendship built throughout The Chosen had the roots to last a lifetime. It was apparent that Danny originally needed a friend and Reuven turned out to be the right one. Also, their fathers recognized this lasting friendship. So, each would most likely encourage it in the future.