The Chosen

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The Chosen Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Reuven and Mr. Galanter go to the Brooklyn Memorial Hospital. Reuven’s eye is feeling worse and he is shuttled from doctor to doctor. Mr. Galanter calls Reuven’s father.
As Reuven moves through the hospital seeing many doctors it becomes clear that his injury is serious. Reuven’s father is introduced as his caretaker.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven has only been to the hospital once when he got his tonsils out and he is scared and nervous that his father will be frightened when he gets the call. An older doctor, Dr. Snydman comes and once he realizes that Reuven was wearing glasses when he was hit he says that Reuven needs to go upstairs.
Reuven cares deeply about his father, and even when in pain Reuven does not want to worry him.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven is put on a stretcher and thinks that the lights are changing colors in the elevator. He remembers Danny Saunders’s grin and then sees a bright light over his head.
Reuven’s hallucinations demonstrate the fragility of sight. With a damaged eye Reuven loses touch with reality – because he believes what he sees. Danny’s grin haunts Reuven even as he loses consciousness.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven opens his eye and sees a nurse. His head feels better and he is hungry. Reuven meets the man in the bed next to him, Tony Savo, who is an ex-boxer. Reuven thinks about how much he hates Danny. He also meets a young blonde boy, Billy Merrit, and realizes that Billy is blind.
Reuven cannot forget Danny; he is obsessed. Reuven is now among different people. They are clearly not the Williamsburg Jews introduced in the first chapter.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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The nurse tells Reuven that he is in a kosher hospital, so he can eat. Reuven talks to Tony and introduces himself as Robert (instead of Reuven). Reuven also describes his appearance to Billy, who tells Reuven that he will be having a new operation to hopefully restore his sight. Billy became blind in a car accident that also killed his mother. His father was driving the car.
Reuven Christianizes his name. He is aware of its strangeness to some other people. Billy is an innocent, kind and tragic figure who has not yet lost hope. He shows the possible consequence of eye injuries. The new operation was discovered in the war; disaster can bring innovation.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Mr. Malter comes in, looking unusually disheveled. Mr. Malter tells his son that he had an operation, has been asleep for a full day, and that there is a possibility that the scar tissue from his injury could grow over his eye and leave him partially blind. Mr. Malter also says that Reb Saunders called him to ask how Reuven was, and that Danny is very sorry for what happened.
Reuven’s natural healing processes could leave him blind. Mr. Malter tells this to his son because they have an open and trusting relationship. Danny is sorry for his brutality although he seemed unrepentant at the time.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Mr. Malter begins to cough and Reuven tells him he should take better care of himself, and adds that it’s Danny’s fault that Mr. Malter is sick. Reuven tells his father that Danny hit him deliberately, but Mr. Malter responds that he should not make such a claim if he is not sure it is true.
Reuven is shown as a caretaker for his father’s health. Mr. Malter is shown as thoughtful and open-minded, he teaches Reuven to look at all sides of a story and not make claims without evidence.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Mr. Malter has brought Reuven a radio so that Reuven can keep up with the news of the war even though Reuven is not allowed to read as he recovers from his surgery. Mr. Malter tells Reuven that it will be a week or two before he can read again.
The war has been brought into the hospital. There is no way to avoid it, and Mr. Malter and Reuven are not trying to avoid it: they are deeply engaged in it.
Themes
World War II and War Theme Icon
Mr. Malter has also brought his son his tefillin and prayer book and tells him to pray. Mr. Malter leaves and Reuven sits in his bed and thinks about how he has taken his eyes and his health for granted. A nurse comes in and gives him a pill to go to sleep. Reuven falls asleep looking at Billy and thinking about what it would be like to be blind. He cannot even fully understand the possible reality of blindness.
God and prayer also cannot be avoided. In spite of Danny’s accusation that they don’t believe in God, Reuven and his father are both very religious. Reuven’s thoughts about blindness show his fears for his own eyes, and his inability to fathom blindness is analogous to a contemplation of his own mortality.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon