Two Boys, One American Dream

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Baseball is a rugged sport, uniquely American. Two Jewish boys meet during one of the most hotly contested baseball games of the high school season, in New York City during World War II. The teams' rivalry—one team are Hassidim, the other orthodox—fuels intense acrimony between them until a freak accident during the game sends one to the hospital with an injury that nearly costs him an eye. The near loss of the boy's eye creates a bond between the boys which develops into a deep and lasting friendship. Both boys, Reuven and Danny, are the sons of European immigrants. In The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, the boys feel the pull of the "American Dream" with its promise of boundless opportunity and freedom of choice—something quite alien to their European forebears. The boys instinctively sense this opportunity, and as they grow up, each develops his own set of ambitions. They are hardly unrealistic: each wants to go to college to pursue his own interests. The obstacle is their fathers who, as traditional old world family patriarchs, exert their authority to dictate what their sons can and cannot do. Thus the stage is set for the conflict between fathers and sons which symbolizes the conflict between the authoritarian old world and the freedom of the new world—the "American Dream." The friendship between the two boys grows especially tight in the times when they are both trying to escape the careers their fathers want them to pursue. Reuven wants to become a rabbi. But his father, who is a greatly respected teacher, hopes that he will become a college professor or some type of teacher. Danny's father is known virtually everywhere because he is the most respected rabbi of the Hassidic community. Tradition, sternly upheld by his father, dictates that Danny be the heir to his father's rabbinate, a hereditary position. But Danny loves the study of the human mind and wants to become a psychologist. For both boys getting away from their father's...
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