The first sentence in the book starts with a mention of Danny Saunders, the narrator Reuven Malter’s future best friend. This sets up what will be the most important relationship in the book: friendship. They meet as enemies during a brutal softball game in which Danny injures and nearly blinds Reuven, but they become fast friends when Danny comes to visit Reuven in the hospital for the second time.
The origin of this relationship demonstrates that friendship is not simply a fun, casual thing. It is also a serious and deep bond. David Malter tells Reuven the importance of friendship early on in the novel, “You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul.” He also reminds Reuven of a saying from the Talmud that a person should “choose a friend.” This reference to the title in demonstrates that in a world where so much is determined at birth, friendship is a choice that one can use to shape a life.
Through their friendship Danny and Reuven are introduced to new world and gain a new perspective on their own lives. Danny learns about his father through Reuven because Reb Saunders communicates with Danny through his friend. Reb Saunders, by his own choice, cannot speak with his son, so he talks to Reuven about Danny while Danny is in the room. He does this because he knows that Reuven is an important, kind and intelligent figure in his son’s life. This again demonstrates the great influence that friendship can have, the way that it can open an individual to new perspectives.
Through the ability to discuss life with a peer, friendship provides an outlet for these boys. In the end they almost switch roles: Danny who is supposed to be a rabbi chooses to become a clinical psychologist, and Reuven who is supposed to be a mathematician chooses to become a rabbi. The ending leaves open the possibility that their friendship is waning as they enter new stages of their lives, but Danny and Reuven have clearly had a permanent impact on each other.
Friendship Quotes in The Chosen
“Things are always what they seem to be, Reuven? Since when?”
“What I tried to tell you, Reuven, is that when a person comes to talk to you, you should be patient and listen. Especially if he has hurt you in any way.”
“You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul.”
“Reb Saunders’ son is a terribly torn and lonely boy. There is literally no one in the world he can talk to. He needs a friend. The accident with the baseball has bound him to you, and he has already sensed in you someone he can talk to without fear.”
“You think a friend is an easy thing to be? If you are truly his friend, you will discover otherwise.”
It was as senseless, as – I held my breath, feeling myself shiver with fear – as Billy’s blindness was senseless. That was it. It was as senseless, as empty of meaning, as Billy’s blindness. I lay there and thought of Roosevelt being dead and Billy being blind, and finally I turned over and lay with my face on the pillow and felt myself crying. I cried a long time.
Poor Danny, I thought. Professor Appleman, with his experimental psychology, is torturing your mind. And your father, with his bizarre silence – which I still couldn’t understand, no matter how often I thought about it – is torturing your soul.”
We had begun to communicate with our eyes, with nods of our heads, with gestures of our hands.