The Chosen

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The Chosen Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Reuven wakes to shouts and a blaring radio. He does not know what is going on, but knows it must be something major because people are always talking about the war, but never with such enthusiasm. The nurse, Mrs. Carpenter, tells everyone to get back to bed. Mr. Savo tells him that it is D-day and Allied forces are winning. Together they listen to news of the invasion on Reuven’s new radio. Billy wants to listen too, and tells them that his uncle is a pilot.
The hospital is no escape from the war, but as they all celebrate Mrs. Carpenter serves as a reminder of their distance from the battlefield. Mr. Savo was too injured from boxing before the war to ever fight. Billy, although just a child, will never be like his uncle the pilot.
Themes
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven asks Mrs. Carpenter if he can pray with his tefillin (two boxes containing the Torah which are worn while praying). She allows it, and as Reuven painfully puts them on Mr. Savo asks Reuven if he plans to become a “priest or something.” Reuven responds that he might but his father wants him to be a mathematician. Mr. Savo says the world needs priests, not fighters like himself. They listen on the radio as a correspondent excitedly describes that the Germans are sinking a Norwegian destroyer.
Reuven is clearly religious and contrasts this with his academic success. He begins to pray when he hears of the battle, implying that he is praying for the soldiers. The enthusiasm of the reporter shows the inescapable excitement of war – something Reuven was tied up in during his own small sports battle.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven listens to the radio and talks about the war all morning. A small boy, Mickey, from another ward begs Mr. Savo to throw a ball with him and he eventually agrees. Mrs. Carpenter comes and scolds both of them. Mr. Galanter comes to visit Reuven. They speak about the war, and Reuven mentions that Billy’s uncle is a pilot. Mr. Galanter looks uncomfortable and explains that he tried to make it as a soldier but could not. He leaves and Billy says his father could not fight because of the accident. There is no one else to take care of him and his sister.
Mrs. Carpenter’s anger shows that Mr. Savo is so injured that he cannot even throw a ball. This is contrasted with Mr. Galanter’s inability to explain his own absence from the war. Billy’s father’s personal tragedy has kept him from fighting. Among all the discussion of war, this section presents men who have avoided battle by choice, and those who have been forced to stay home.
Themes
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven falls asleep and has a nightmare about his eye. He wakes to see Danny standing by his bed. He is shocked. Danny apologizes and asks Reuven not to hate him. Reuven says “I don’t hate you,” and Danny sits down. Danny knows about the scar tissue. Reuven asks Danny how it feels to “know you’ve made someone blind in one eye.” Danny keeps saying he is sorry but Reuven is still angry. Danny leaves. Reuven and Mr. Savo discuss Danny. Mr. Savo asks if he is one of “those real religious Jews,” and calls them “fanatics.”
Danny is trying to make amends but Reuven is not ready to. He is very frightened about his eye and this adds to his continued anger with Danny. Mr. Malter has talked to Danny, showing that he wants Danny and his son to make up. This section also provides a Savo's external, non-Jewish view of Hasidic Jews – they are labeled as fanatics from their clothing alone.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
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Mr. Malter comes to visit and is angry with Reuven for not allowing Danny to apologize. He reminds his son that the Talmud advocates forgiveness. Mr. Malter goes on to say that when someone comes to talk to you, you must “be patient and listen,” especially if they have hurt you. They then speak about the developing invasion in Europe, which Mr. Malter calls “the beginning of the end of Hitler.” Mr. Malter leaves and Reuven feels guilty for his treatment of Danny.
Mr. Malter introduces two important lessons in the novel: forgiveness and listening. He bases these lessons on Jewish teachings. Reuven's shift from anger to guilt shows that he is deeply influenced by his father. The quick mention of Hitler brings up further questions about the possibility of forgiveness.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Billy’s father, Roger Merrit, comes to visit and asks Reuven to come visit them after Billy’s operation. Reuven agrees. The next morning Reuven is able to walk around. Reuven again spends the day listening to the radio, but becomes increasingly frustrated with not being able to read. Danny comes again; now Reuven apologizes for his behavior the day before. Danny tells Reuven that he wanted to kill him during the ball game. It wasn’t about the game but something specifically about Reuven that got to Danny.
Reuven is becoming frustrated with his injury, but not sad. Reuven has realized, based on his father’s advice, that his treatment of Danny was wrong and he is now ready to talk to him. Danny reveals some sort of violent connection that he feels with Reuven. This confirms that there has been some bond between them from the beginning.
Themes
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven is shocked by Danny’s lack of a Yiddish accent. They talk about their studies. Danny recites a passage from the Talmud and reveals that he has a photographic memory. Danny says he is going to take his father’s place as rabbi and Reuven says he wants to be a rabbi as well, which surprises Danny. He doesn’t understand why anyone would become a rabbi if they had the choice to do something else. Danny says he is interested in psychology. Reuven realizes that he did not try to duck when Danny hit the ball at him. Reuven did not want to appear cowardly.
Danny’s Hasidic attire is deceiving, and even Reuven has overestimated how different these strict Jews are from himself. Danny reveals that he has no choice in his life, and although he has other interests, seems resigned to his fate. In suddenly seeing Danny as a person, Reuven also realizes he can't blame only Danny for his injury. Reuven, too, was being rigid—the ball hit him because he was refusing to look cowardly in front of Danny.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven forgives Danny and they discuss how Danny’s team was formed. Danny had to convince his father, Reb Saunders, to allow a sports team by saying that it was their duty to beat the “apikorsim” (Jews who don’t believe in God). Danny says that his father only speak to him when they are studying the Talmud. Reb Saunders wishes “everyone could talk in silence.” Danny becomes distant and leaves, promising to come the next day.
This passage introduces Danny’s complex relationship with his father. Although Danny clearly does not agree with everything his father believes, he has no choice but to follow his rules. This also presents the symbol of silence, and speaking in silence, which distracts and upsets Danny. Danny and Reuven discuss many deep aspects of their lives in this first conversation.
Themes
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon