December 3, 2012
A Life Changing Friendship
The Chosen by Chaim Potok tells a story about an unlikely friendship between an Orthodox Jew, Reuven Malter, and Hasidic Jew, Danny Saunders. The story is narrated from Reuven’s point of view. It begins with a baseball game in which Danny and Reuven are playing on opposing teams. During the game Danny hits a line drive to Reuven, and Reuven’s eye is injured. After this, Danny and Reuven enter into each other’s different worlds and a deep friendship evolves. Their friendship essentially changes both of their lives. The author uses strong character development and symbolism to show how a friendship between two very different people can change their lives. Reuven and Danny are different in many ways. To both of them, religion is a way of life, but their approach to their faith is not the same. Reuven is devout and prays with genuine compassion, evidently believing his prayers are heard. He and his father study the Talmud in a slow, methodical way, using scientific criticism. Reuven desires to become a rabbi. Danny’s approach to his faith is more mechanical. He studies the Talmud because he has to. He and his father’s method of studying the Talmud is by making points and arguing. Danny’s future position as a ‘tzaddik’ is a given. While Reuven is more personable and goes out with friends, Danny seems more withdrawn and holds himself apart from people. Each boy develops as a result of their friendship and ultimately both of their lives change. At the beginning of the story, Reuven dismisses Hasidism and those who practice it. He thinks Hasids are ignorant and self-righteous fanatics. He is critical of what he doesn’t understand. As their unlikely friendship begins and Reuven is thrust into Danny’s world, his perception broadens. His eyes are opened and he realizes that things are not always the way they seem. “I don’t understand it…Weeks and weeks go by,...