“The Chosen” by Chaim Potok is about a friendship that existed between two Jewish boys from Brooklyn, New York City. Reuven Malter the main character is good in mathematics, wants to become a rabbi and follows modern Judaism. His friend Daniel Saunders also known as Danny in short, is a genius and a son of Hasidic Rabbi known as Reb Saunders. Reb expects his son to take over from him and become a Tzaddik. The novel takes place in the 1940s and takes a period of six years that begun in 1944 when the two friends Reuven and Danny were only fifteen years old. Its backdrop runs against the famous historical events of the 1940s that includes the end of World War II, the revelation of Holocaust in Europe, death of President Roosevelt and the struggle for Israel to become a state.
In their first meeting, the two friends are rivals playing against each other in interschool baseball game. The game resulted to Reuven’s eye injury when Danny shattered glasses as he tries to hit a line drive towards Reuven. Danny struggles to befriend Reuven at the hospital after this incident and later they become great friends. In their stories about each other, Reuven finds out that his father has been instrumental in his friend’s life because he has been recommending books to Danny who was interested in reading books and gaining knowledge outside what his father wanted. Reb on the other hand welcomes Reuven despite disapproving his father’s work. Their friendship continues despite several misunderstandings but later, they learned to like what each of them stood for in terms of their beliefs. The conflicts included an instance when Reuven spoke favorably of the struggle to launch a secular Jewish nation in Palestine. It led Danny to be barred from speaking to Reuven and not even mentioning his name in their house.
They soon resumed friendship after the founding of modern Israel when Reb had relented since the new nation was a fact and not an issue anymore. As the novel climaxed, Reuven and Danny finds out what Reb intended for his son. He wanted to raise his son in silence and shut him out emotionally so that Danny could understand the meaning of pain and want. But he found out that Danny was dawning intelligence and indeed had a heart and cared about people. They later reconciled and Danny started wearing modern cloths and locks out Hasidic culture and continues to study psychology. On the other hand, Reuven decides that he wants to be a rabbi and goes to study at a yeshiva.
From the book and the major themes highlighted, we are able to learn that friends are indeed helpful at the time of need because as we find out, Danny and his father provided company and shelter for Reuven when he needed one most during his father’s ailments and hospitalization. We are able to acknowledge the strength and validity of faith in a modern secular world and most importantly the strength of friendship. The story informs about negative effects of silence since it imposes constrains between two good friends. The book informs us that Reuven found out that Danny had come to terms with silence that was imposed by his father, after he discovered that silence can teach at the same time be a source of beauty as well as pain and withdrawal. Finally, we should always let people be what they want to be in life and we never direct human career to what we want them to be since everybody will always get to whatever level they want in life despite addles and baffles we impose on them.