The Chosen

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The Chosen Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Reuven is treated like family in the Saunders home. The mother heaps food on his plate and the sister teases him. Levi, Danny’s brother, is sickly and wanders “ghostlike” around the house. Danny and Reuven now spend all their time together, and finally have time to discuss Freud. They visit Mr. Malter at the hospital, spend time with Danny’s mother and sister, and read together.
Danny’s family is like any other outside of his father. Danny and Reuven now have time to spend together and will be able to catch up on all that they have recently missed.
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Danny and Reuven argue over the Talmud when Reb Saunders is free but he is almost never free because people are always coming to see him. He is very distant and on one occasion starts weeping at the table. He still never speaks with Danny unless they are talking about the Talmud.
Reb Saunders is busy because his people are upset and confused by the Holocaust and turn to him. Like Mr. Malter, he weeps because of the pain and horror of the Holocaust.
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Danny has gotten deep into Freud, whose writings upset him, but he cannot stop reading because he believes the Freud has great “insight into the nature of man.” Danny notes that Freud’s knowledgeable opinion of man is also very antireligious and negative.
Danny is becoming more and more interested in secular and even sacrilegious topics. He believes that there is more to know about man than only his relationship to God.
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Danny now understands and reads Freud with ease and begins teaching some of it the Reuven. Reuven begins to wonder how Danny can believe in the tenets of the Talmud and of Freud at the same time – it seems that one or other should win. Danny ignores Reuven.
Danny’s secular readings truly conflict with his religious study, as Reb Saunders worried they would.
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Reuven does not talk to his father about Danny because he does not want to worry him while he is in the hospital. Mr. Malter has become obsessed with the plight of European Jews. He is very sick and weak and talks of nothing else but building a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He says that they cannot wait for the Messiah.
Mr. Malter believes that the Jews must take action against what has been done to them. His reaction to suffering is to take action, which greatly differs to Reb Saunders’s perspective.
Themes
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Reuven mentions the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (also known as Zionism) to Reb Saunders, not mentioning that his father supports it. Reb Saunders explodes with anger and says that it is sacrilegious for a Jewish homeland to be made before the coming of the Messiah – especially by secular Jews.
Reb Saunders believes that sufferings is the will of God and that any action taken to create a Jewish homeland before the coming of Messiah is wrong—is questioning God. He and Mr. Malter have opposite arguments.
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Reuven is shocked by Reb Saunders’s rage. Reb Saunders keeps repeating, “should we just forget the Messiah?” He says true Jews could not believe in Zionism.
Reb Saunders implies that Mr. Malter is not a true Jew, foreshadowing problems between the two families.
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Danny explains to Reuven that a secular Jewish state is a violation of everything his father believes in, and that Reuven should never mention it again. Danny says that if Reb Saunders knew that Reuven’s father believed in Zionism he would kick Reuven out of the house.
Although Reb Saunders approves of Reuven, Zionism is a deal breaker. He will not accept someone who believes in Zionism.
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Danny talks about his brother, Levi. He is worried about his brother’s sickness because he realized recently that his brother could continue the dynasty and become a tzaddic if Danny decided to study psychology. Danny says he hasn’t told his father this yet, but he will need Reuven when he does.
The fact that Danny considers his brother as a possible candidate to take his position shows that he is seriously searching for a way out. He wants to choose his own life path and is trying to figure out how he can.
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Reuven tries to talk about Danny’s sister but Danny won't. He says that his sister was promised to be married when she was two years old. Danny says that he pities his father because he is a great man but is intellectually trapped. Danny believes that he is trapped as well.
Danny sees how he could also be intellectually trapped if he followed in his father’s footsteps.
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Reuven goes to the summer cottage with his father and, while there, the United States bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the war in Japan ends. In September, Reuven and Danny both start at Hirsch College. Danny now wears glasses.
Danny and Reuven are growing older and are about to enter a new stage in their lives. That Danny now wears glasses shows that he is entering a new stage in an effort to see and understand the world around him.
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