Reuven’s father comes to visit him and he is sicker and weaker than before. He tells Reuven that Dr. Snydman will look at his eye on Friday morning and he will most likely come home Friday afternoon. Reuven will not be able to read for 10 days and they will find out about the scar tissue after that.
Mr. Malter’s worry for his son takes a physical toll on him. He has a delicate constitution and cares deeply for his son. Reuven will return home on Shabbat, appropriately, the day of rest.
Reuven tells his father about his conversation with Danny, and that he now likes his former enemy. Mr. Malter says that people are not always as they seem to be and he tells Reuven that he should make Danny his friend. He reminds his son that friendship is serious and important and that the Talmud says that one should “choose a friend.” Friendship is a commitment; it is different than just liking someone.
This passage indicates that friendship will be an important theme in the novel. Friendship is not just fun, it is a serious commitment, and an active choice: one must choose one’s friends. In many ways it seems that Danny and Reuven met by fate, but they both had to choose to be friends, not enemies.
Reuven says that Danny does not seem like a Hasid and Mr. Malter agrees. Reuven also says that he has been praying from memory even though he can’t read.
Danny does not fit the stereotype of a Hasid. Reuven is deeply religious himself and is more similar to Danny than he thought.
Reuven tells Mr. Savo that Mr. Malter teaches the Talmud to high school students. Mr. Savo warns Reuven that he shouldn’t become friend with someone like Danny, who hit him. Reuven tries to tell Mr. Savo that it wasn’t Danny’s fault but Mr. Savo just states that he “doesn’t like fanatics.”
Mr. Savo presents a typical outsiders view. He holds Reuven’s previous beliefs, and labels Danny a fanatic because of his clothing. Reuven is now totally pro-Danny; he has completely changed his view and now defends his friend to-be.
Reuven wakes in the middle of the night and can’t remember where he is. The curtain is drawn around Mr. Savo’s bed and a nurse nervously tells Reuven to go back to bed. In the morning the curtain is still drawn. Billy and Reuven are nervous about Mr. Savo, and Reuven takes out his tefillin and prays for his health. Reuven remembers his eye examination is the next day and he becomes increasingly scared.
Mr. Savo’s turn for the worse shows the fragility of his condition, and reminds Reuven of the uncertainty of his own health. Again, he turns to prayer during a time of difficulty.
Danny comes to see Reuven again and they sit out in the hallway because of Mr. Savo. Danny talks again about his father’s silence. He also talks about reading Darwin, Hemmingway, and the fact that he sometimes doesn’t know what God wants. The whole time it seems as if he is talking to himself more than to Reuven. Reuven says he looks like a Hasid but does not act like one.
Danny is eager to have someone with whom to share his thoughts. His father’s silence means he has no one to talk to, so he needs a friend. Danny does not seem like a Hasid because he discusses literature he can’t read, and questions God even though he has already committed himself to becoming a rabbi.
Danny describes that he has no choice but to take his father’s place because the dynasty will fall apart if he does not. His family has been rabbis for six generations. He says that once he becomes a rabbi he can read whatever he wants, Danny then notes the irony in the fact that he does not want to be a rabbi but has to be, and Reuven doesn’t have to be a rabbi but wants to be.
Here Danny addresses the theme of choice. He has resigned himself to his personally unhappy fate, because he feels that he has absolutely no choice. In contrast, Reuven is more free.
Mr. Malter walks in and Danny recognizes him. Reuven finds out that they know each other because Mr. Malter has been recommending books to Danny in the library. Mr. Malter has known all along but Danny had no idea. Mr. Malter says he never told either of them because he didn’t believe it was his place to tell.
Mr. Malter has known about Danny’s intellectual doubts and intelligence and knew that Reuven could be a good friend. They still chose to be friends, but Mr. Malter brought them together – acting as a father to both.
Mr. Malter is feeling sick, so after a brief talk with his son he returns home. Reuven keeps thinking about Danny and his father. The next morning he wakes up excited and nervous for his examination. Mr. Savo is feeling better now, and it becomes clear that his recent injury arose from throwing the ball to Mickey. Billy has left for his operation and Reuven spends the morning praying for him.
Reuven is nervous for his own health, while he sees such examples of illness in his new friends. Mr. Savo nearly died from the slightest effort, and Billy’s chances of recovery seem slim. He turns to God in these moments of uncertainty.
Reuven goes to his examination and Dr. Snydman seems tired. The doctor thinks he will be all right but wants to see him again to check on the scar tissue. Mr. Savo is happy that Reuven will be able to leave. Mr. Malter comes to pick up Reuven. As he is about to leave, Mr. Savo tells Reuven that his eye was taken out. He says he regrets being a fighter. He could have been in the war, and become a priest.
Reuven has escaped the hospital, but sees what could have been the alternative in Mr. Savo, who is filled with regret for choices he made when he was young, and who wishes he could have been a figure of peace and comfort rather than a fighter.