The Chosen: Literary Essay

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The Clamor of Placidity
Throughout Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, Danny is constantly surrounded by silence. In one of their many conversations during their last year of college, Danny informs Reuven of both his understanding and acceptance of silence when he discusses the textures of silence and his recognition of it. On the first day of Passover, when Reb Saunders finally reveals why Danny was brought up in silence, Danny accepts that silence was used as a form of communication throughout his childhood. As Danny listens to his father’s confessions he begins to truly accepts and comprehends the way his father chose to discipline him. Because of the constant silence from his father, Danny is able to hear the words unsaid, as if silence possesses the ability to communicate with him. He also understands the impact of reticence throughout his childhood which helps him develop a soul and find strength within himself.

Danny has been brought up in silence by his father and now views it as something alive, a voice that speaks to people who are willing to listen to the pain and the happiness it expresses. Danny has grown to learn about it throughout his childhood, which is what Reb Saunders hopes for, so that Danny can learn to be a true tzaddik and take the pain of his people in silence like Reb Saunders has. Reuven and Danny are eating lunch one day, and Reuven is telling Danny about an anti-Hasidic story, making Danny laugh loudly. Suddenly, Reuven recalls something a student had said a few days ago, about how tzaddiks must sit in absolute silence and his followers shall listen attentively. As soon as the statement leaves Reuven’s mouth, Danny immediately stops laughing, but then he responds in a way that reminds Reuven of Reb Saunders: “I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all on its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. ...It has a strange, beautiful texture. It...
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