The Chosen - Historic Events

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Chaim Potok uses historic events to help shape the plot of The Chosen and create conflicts and challenges for the characters to overcome. Specifically, the Holocaust and the Zionist movement create a feeling of aversion between the Malters and the Saunders by setting the Malters' reform Jewish, Zionist beliefs against those of the Hasidic, anti-Zionist Saunders. In the end of The Chosen, after the strength of Reuven and Danny's friendship has been thoroughly tested, their bond emerges just as healthy as it was prior to their estrangement. The characters' reactions to these events shape the entire second half of The Chosen. When the news of the intense Nazi persecution of the Jews reaches New York, the Malters and the Saunders are intensely disturbed. While David Malter is reading an account of the terror of the Holocaust, Reuven sees him "break down and weep like a child"(180). Reb Saunders shows his grief when he sighs, "How the world makes us suffer"(181). Danny and Reuven are also "tense and distraught"(181) after an original feeling of shock. Although both families' initial reactions are identical, their solutions to the persecution of the Hebrews are radically different. Differences in ideology between the two families of The Chosen cause conflict between the two patriarchs and their sons. The Hasidic viewpoint, which is shared by Danny and Reb Saunders, is that everything that happens on Earth is the result of God's will. Therefore, the Holocaust is what God wanted. Reb Saunders believes that there is nothing they can do but "accept the will of God"(181) and that no human intervention is necessary or even tolerable. Conversely, David and Reuven Malter believe that the Jewish people "cannot wait for God"(182), and that they must "replace the treasures [the Jewish people] have lost"(182). David Malter is not as sure that the future rests solely in God's hands as Reb Saunders is and says, "If we do not rebuild Jewry in America, we will die as a...
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