Rabbi and Reuven Malter Essay

Submitted By Matt-Saccomanno
Words: 1314
Pages: 6

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1967) Historical Context: The Chosen was written during the 1960s. During this time, there were new, radical culture revolutions that demanded the freedoms of individuals. In the United States, Martin Luther King delivered the “I have a Dream” speech, inspiring Americans to advance equal rights. Eliminating racial discrimination against African Americans, the civil rights movement was a long and tenuous process. During the same time, a massive anti-war movement had arisen as many young Americans started to protest against the Vietnam War. Igniting national debate, college students became a disruptive pressure that ultimately led to achieving ideals such as minimizing violence or in particular, ending the Vietnam War. In the later half of the decade, the role of women was questioned when the feminist movement began to grow in size. At the time, women were portrayed as fragile beings that should only concern themselves with housecleaning and beauty. Feminists began funneling to the streets, protesting, writing and debating the limited views of women. Each of these movements struggled to gain power and impact from the social standards and traditions of the past to resolve the suppressions of the formerly suppressed people. In the same way, throughout the novel, Danny struggles to free himself from his family’s tradition of becoming a rabbi to pursue his intellectual interests.

Reuven Malter: The narrator and one of the protagonists of the story, Reuven Malter is a highly brilliant mathematician and an orthodox Jew. He primarily acts as Danny’s friend throughout the novel and is dedicated to becoming a rabbi.
Danny Saunders: Danny Saunders is the additional protagonist of the story and is a Hasidic Jew; he is gifted with a photographic memory. Throughout the novel he struggles to free himself from his Hasidic traditions since he would rather study psychology and Freud.
David Malter: Reuven’s father, David Malter is a writer for a newspaper, tending to write controversial material about the Jewish bible. Later in the novel he becomes actively involved in supporting Zionism, which leads to his diminishing health.
Reb Saunders: Danny’s father, Reb Saunders is a harsh Hasidic rabbi. He raises his son in silence, only talking to him when they discuss the Talmud. It is revealed that he does this so that his son will learn compassion.
Levi Saunders: Danny’s younger brother, Levi Saunders is ill throughout the novel. Near the end of the novel, it is announced that he will take over the Hasidic dynasty while Danny pursues psychology.
Mr. Galanter: Mr. Galanter is the gym instructor and coach for Reuven’s softball team. He speaks in martial terms, leading the team to wonder why he isn’t in the war. He never discloses why.
Mr. Savo: A hospital patient, Mr. Savo is a former boxer. He speaks in boxing metaphors and when he hears of Danny, he emphasizes being conscious of extremists, particularly religious ones.
Billy: Another hospital patient, Billy is an adolescent boy described as an angel like figure. Blinded from his father’s car accident, he goes in for an operation. However, the operation is futile, unsuccessful in restoring his vision as Reuven discovers.

Major Events:
-Reuven’s softball team plays Danny’s teams, escalating into a “holy war.”
-Danny hits Reuven in the eye, causing Reuven to be rushed to the hospital.
-Danny visits Reuven and apologies, and as a result, they become friends.
-Reb Saunders starts to use Reuven to speak to Danny. Reb raises his son in silence.
-Reuven’s father has a heart attack. Reuven leaves to live with the Saunders.
-Danny tells Reuven that he wishes to study psychology and Freud, hoping his brother will take his father’s role.
-At Hirsch College, Danny impresses the Hasidic community. He is frustrated by the experimental psychology.
-Reuven’s father gives an affirmative speech on Zionism, and when Reb Saunders, an anti