The Chosen

Reuven Malter Character Analysis

The novel’s narrator and protagonist, Reuven grows up over the course of the novel, starting as fifteen year old and ending as a college graduate. He is an Orthodox Jew living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his father, David Malter, and a housekeeper, Manya. He is a smart, athletic, popular and thoughtful young man and spends much of his time and energy on academic and religious study. He is especially talented at mathematics, but wants to be a rabbi when he grows up. The Chosen follows Reuven’s friendship with Danny Saunders. They meet when Danny hits a softball in Reuven’s eye nearly blinding him, and they hate each other at first, but soon come to realize that they were meant to be fast friends. The rest of the novel follows this pair from Reuven’s perspective as they both negotiate their relationship to Judaism, tradition, and the modern world within the complicated setting of World War II, the horrifying news of the Holocaust, and the founding of a Jewish state is Israel.

Reuven Malter Quotes in The Chosen

The The Chosen quotes below are all either spoken by Reuven Malter or refer to Reuven Malter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Fawcett edition of The Chosen published in 1987.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I felt myself suddenly very angry, and it was at that point that for me the game stopped being merely a game and became a war.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker)
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

“Things are always what they seem to be, Reuven? Since when?”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter
Related Symbols: Eyes and Blindness
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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I couldn’t imagine what it was like to know that no matter whether my eyes were opened or closed it made no difference, everything was still dark.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes and Blindness
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter, Danny Saunders
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

I stood in that room for a long time, watching the sunlight and listening to the sounds on the street outside. I stood there, tasting the room and the sunlight and the sounds …

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker)
Related Symbols: Silence
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

“We are like other people, Reuven. We do not survive disaster merely by appealing to invisible powers. We are as easily degraded as any other people.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter, Danny Saunders, Reb Isaac Saunders
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Reuven, as you grow older you will discover that the most important things that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them – ‘ordinary things’ is a better expression. That is the way the world is.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

“I feel like a cowboy surrounded by Indians.”

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker)
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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I didn’t agree at all with his notions of the world as being contaminated. Albert Einstein is part of the world, I told myself. President Roosevelt is part of the world. The millions of soldiers fighting Hitler are part of the world.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Reb Isaac Saunders
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

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“You think a friend is an easy thing to be? If you are truly his friend, you will discover otherwise.”

Related Characters: Reb Isaac Saunders (speaker), Reuven Malter, Danny Saunders
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

A spider had spun a web across the corner of the upper rail, and there was a housefly trapped in it now, its wings spread-eagled, glued to the strands of the web, its legs flaying the air frantically.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker)
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Billy Merrit
Related Symbols: Eyes and Blindness
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I am not satisfied with it either, Reuven. We cannot wait for God. If there is an answer, we must make it ourselves.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

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.”

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Danny Saunders, Reb Isaac Saunders, Professor Nathan Appleman
Related Symbols: Silence
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

The death of six million Jews had finally been given meaning, he kept saying over and over again. It had happened. After two thousand years, it had finally happened. We were a people again, with our own land. We were a blessed generation. We had been give the opportunity to see the creation of the Jewish state.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), David Malter
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

We had begun to communicate with our eyes, with nods of our heads, with gestures of our hands.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Danny Saunders
Related Symbols: Eyes and Blindness, Silence
Page Number: 255-256
Explanation and Analysis:

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Reuven Malter Character Timeline in The Chosen

The timeline below shows where the character Reuven Malter appears in The Chosen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven Malter, the novel’s narrator and protagonist, mentions that for the first 15 years of his... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven believes that he and Danny would never have met if it were not for America’s... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Mr. Galanter, Reuven’s coach, leads the team in a pre-game practice. Davey Cantor, a boy on Reuven’s team,... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
...who hit it races around the bases and, as he runs past second, knocks over Reuven in what appears to be an illegal move. The umpire calls the runner safe at... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...it to second base for a double. As the next batter comes up, Danny asks Reuven if his father is Mr. Malter, who writes about the Talmud. Danny then says that... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
The game becomes more brutal and Reuven thinks about what his father has told him about strict, Hasidic Jews like Danny Saunders:... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...they do. Danny comes back to the plate and hits a high, hard ball that Reuven miraculously catches. Mr. Galanter tells him he deserves a Purple Heart. (full context)
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
As the game moves into the last inning, Reuven’s team is leading five to three. Reuven takes over as pitcher. He strikes out the... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Mr. Galanter takes Reuven out of the game. Reuven is in great pain but sits on the bench as... (full context)
Chapter 2
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven and Mr. Galanter go to the Brooklyn Memorial Hospital. Reuven’s eye is feeling worse and... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven has only been to the hospital once when he got his tonsils out and he... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven is put on a stretcher and thinks that the lights are changing colors in the... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven opens his eye and sees a nurse. His head feels better and he is hungry.... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
The nurse tells Reuven that he is in a kosher hospital, so he can eat. Reuven talks to Tony... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion 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... (full context)
World War II and War Theme Icon
Mr. Malter has brought Reuven a radio so that Reuven can keep up with the news of the war even... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 3
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven wakes to shouts and a blaring radio. He does not know what is going on,... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven asks Mrs. Carpenter if he can pray with his tefillin (two boxes containing the Torah... (full context)
Choosing and Being Chosen 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,... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven falls asleep and has a nightmare about his eye. He wakes to see Danny standing... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Friendship 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... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven is shocked by Danny’s lack of a Yiddish accent. They talk about their studies. Danny... (full context)
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... (full context)
Chapter 4
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven’s father comes to visit him and he is sicker and weaker than before. He tells... (full context)
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Reuven tells his father about his conversation with Danny, and that he now likes his former... (full context)
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Reuven says that Danny does not seem like a Hasid and Mr. Malter agrees. Reuven also... (full context)
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Reuven tells Mr. Savo that Mr. Malter teaches the Talmud to high school students. Mr. Savo... (full context)
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Reuven wakes in the middle of the night and can’t remember where he is. The curtain... (full context)
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Danny comes to see Reuven again and they sit out in the hallway because of Mr. Savo. Danny talks again... (full context)
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Mr. Malter walks in and Danny recognizes him. Reuven finds out that they know each other because Mr. Malter has been recommending books to... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Reuven goes to his examination and Dr. Snydman seems tired. The doctor thinks he will be... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Reuven and his father take a taxi back from the hospital and are greeted with an... (full context)
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On his walls Reuven notes pictures of famous Jewish figures, images of war maps and Franklin Delano Roosevelt cut... (full context)
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Reuven walks through his father’s room to get to the living room. Mr. Malter does not... (full context)
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Reuven sits in his living room and looks out the window “tasting” the sights and sounds... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The Malters sit down for Shabbat dinner and Reuven asks his father about Danny. Mr. Malter says he will have to go far back... (full context)
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Mr. Malter tells Reuven that Danny needs a friend. He is lonely and confused over whether he should follow... (full context)
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Reuven says he can’t believe that so much has changed in one week and tells his... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Reuven and his father go to their storefront synagogue together in the morning, which is filled... (full context)
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When he wakes Danny is standing over him and asks Reuven to come over and meet his father, who has to “approve of his friends.” On... (full context)
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...filled with robed Hasidim and the line parts “like the red sea” as Danny leads Reuven through. They go into the synagogue, which is the same size and layout at Reuven’s... (full context)
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...with more men and they all begin to eat a meal. Reb Saunders stares at Reuven and Danny eats in complete silence. Someone begins to sing a prayer and everyone joins... (full context)
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...Reb Saunders asks Danny if he heard any mistakes. Danny points out his father’s error. Reuven realizes that Reb Saunders is testing his son and that this must happen every Sabbath.... (full context)
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Reb Saunders speaks with Reuven and tells him that Mr. Malter is a great scholar. He tells Reuven that it... (full context)
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Danny and Reuven walk home together and talk about the test. Danny says that Reb Saunders’ followers love... (full context)
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Reuven comes home late and Mr. Malter is waiting up, worried that his son has been... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Reuven returns to school where everyone thinks he is a hero because of the softball game.... (full context)
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Danny is reading remarkably quickly and doesn’t notice Reuven at first. Because Reuven can’t read yet with his injured eye he closes his eyes... (full context)
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...looks around to make sure that no one he knows has seen him there. When Reuven gets home he tells his father that Danny has been studying German in order to... (full context)
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Reuven goes over to Danny’s house of Shabbat to study the Talmud with Reb Saunders. Reuven... (full context)
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...– now Danny and his father are truly battling. They speak quickly and passionately and Reuven sits and listens. Although he is overwhelmed at first, Reuven comes to realize that Danny... (full context)
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Now Reuven feels he can contribute. He enters the “field of combat,” making a point in support... (full context)
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...to an end and Reb Saunders sends Danny to get some tea. Reb Saunders tells Reuven that he has “a good head.” He then says that he knows that Danny has... (full context)
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...comes back and the three continue to discuss the Torah. As they are walking home Reuven tells Danny about what happened and, to Reuven’s surprise, Danny is relieved. Danny tells Reuven... (full context)
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Reuven tells his father about everything that happened, including the Saunders family silent treatment. Mr. Malter... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Reuven goes back to Dr. Snydman who tells him that his eyes have healed well and... (full context)
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Reuven is very busy with schoolwork and not able to see Danny. They talk on the... (full context)
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Reuven calls Mr. Merrit, Billy’s father, to see how the operation went. Mr. Merrit tells Reuven... (full context)
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Reuven is very disturbed by the news and can’t concentrate on anything. He wanders through the... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Danny and Reuven spend time together every day once school ends. Danny studies Talmud every morning, and Reuven... (full context)
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Reuven goes over to the Saunders every Shabbat to discuss the Talmud with Danny and his... (full context)
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...All of a sudden Danny takes a deep breath and looks excited. Later Danny tells Reuven that he has realized how to read Freud: he needs to be studied like the... (full context)
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Reuven leaves for the Catskills for a month with his father and Danny has started to... (full context)
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When Reuven gets back he sees Danny who looks older, has read more Freud and wants to... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Reuven gets elected president of his class and this, along with his schoolwork, means that he... (full context)
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...excited that the war will end soon. Danny catches the flu and then bronchitis and Reuven is not allowed to see him. (full context)
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The next week they find out that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has died and Reuven is utterly shocked. People are weeping on the street, and Reuven realizes that he never... (full context)
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Danny gets better but then Reuven catches the flu. When he gets better he has missed so much school that he... (full context)
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...As he is reading Mr. Malter breaks down in tears and cries “like a child.” Reuven can’t comprehend how six million Jews could have been murdered – how six million people... (full context)
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Reuven goes to Danny’s for Shabbat and Reb Saunders does not make them study Talmud. Instead... (full context)
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Reuven tells his father that Reb Saunders believes the Holocaust is ultimately God’s will. Mr. Malter... (full context)
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Soon after this conversation, Mr. Malter has a heart attack. Reuven is in a “blind panic.” Manya takes care of him at first but then Reb... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Reuven is treated like family in the Saunders home. The mother heaps food on his plate... (full context)
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Danny and Reuven argue over the Talmud when Reb Saunders is free but he is almost never free... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Reuven does not talk to his father about Danny because he does not want to worry... (full context)
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Reuven mentions the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (also known as Zionism) to Reb... (full context)
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Reuven is shocked by Reb Saunders’s rage. Reb Saunders keeps repeating, “should we just forget the... (full context)
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Danny explains to Reuven that a secular Jewish state is a violation of everything his father believes in, and... (full context)
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Reuven tries to talk about Danny’s sister but Danny won't. He says that his sister was... (full context)
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Reuven goes to the summer cottage with his father and, while there, the United States bombs... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Danny and Reuven begin Hirsch Seminary and College, an Orthodox Jewish college that combines both religious and secular... (full context)
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...Danny thinks that Freud is a genius, so of course they follow his teachings dogmatically. Reuven then compares Freud to a tzaddic. Reuven says that Danny should wait it out and... (full context)
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Reuven goes inside to see his father, who has a bad cold—his third in five months.... (full context)
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Reuven tells his father that he wishes he would take it a little easy. Mr. Malter... (full context)
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Mr. Malter tells Reuven that “man must fill his life with meaning.” Mr. Malter says that he is working... (full context)
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To change the subject, Mr. Malter tells Reuven that Jack Rose, a non-observant Jew that Mr. Malter has known since he was a... (full context)
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In line with this conversation, Reuven tells his father that he is definitely going to become a rabbi. Mr. Malter says... (full context)
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The next day Reuven goes to the library to read about experimental psychology. He sees how Danny must be... (full context)
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...the world again. There was a huge snow storm the day before the rally and Reuven couldn’t attend because of schoolwork. (full context)
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Reuven waits up all night for his father. Mr. Malter comes home a bit before one... (full context)
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The next day, Danny indicates to Reuven that he should follow him into the bathroom. There, Danny tells him that his father... (full context)
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Reuven feels angry and sad. He notices that all of the Hasidic students avoid all contact... (full context)
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Reuven calls Reb Saunders a fanatic and Mr. Malter responds that “the fanaticism of men like... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Danny and Reuven don’t speak to each other for the rest of the semester. The silence hurts Reuven... (full context)
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...and Mr. Malter becomes increasingly passionate. He becomes even more involved in Zionist activities and Reuven rarely sees his father. Reuven thinks about Danny and Reb Saunders constantly and cannot understand... (full context)
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In September, Reuven is seated near Danny during the school’s opening assembly and Danny looks thin and pale.... (full context)
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...so everyone had to be prepared for every passage. Towards the end of the semester Reuven had still only been called on once. Danny smiles at Reuven when he gets a... (full context)
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...next day the school is still filled with the leaflets of Reb Saunders’ anti-Zionist league. Reuven is so angry that he wants to punch one of them, but he remembers that... (full context)
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...Jews, after they have already been through the Holocaust, has trumped their hatred of Zionism. Reuven is happy that he restrained his anger earlier. (full context)
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...nearly dies and has to remain in the hospital for over 6 weeks. Danny passes Reuven in the hall and looks at him for the first time in months in order... (full context)
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Reuven encounters a very difficult passage and somehow knows that this is the one that Rav... (full context)
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Rav Gershenson does call on Reuven when it comes to this difficult passage. Reuven starts to explain the passage and goes... (full context)
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Rav Gershenson asks Reuven to stay after class. He asks Reuven whether he studied by himself and Reuven says... (full context)
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After school Reuven goes to look up Gershenson’s name in the library and he cannot find it anywhere.... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...the hospital but is still too weak to do anything. Rav Gershenson now calls on Reuven regularly and Reuven always answers well. Reuven comes to accept his silence with Danny and... (full context)
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In the second week of May, Israel becomes a country and Reuven and Mr. Malter weep with joy. But the Arab attacks against the Jewish state continue.... (full context)
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A graduate of Hirsch college is killed in the fighting around Jerusalem. Reuven did not know him but it makes the violence seem very close to home. There... (full context)
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Reuven does very well on his final exams and he goes to the cottage with his... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Reuven and Danny, after not speaking for more than two years, talk about the silence they... (full context)
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Reuven tells Mr. Malter what happened when he comes home and Mr. Malter says, “what a... (full context)
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Danny and Reuven continue their old habit of meeting before and after school. They now dominate Rav Gershenson’s... (full context)
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...attend Columbia. Danny has decided to apply, but he has not yet told his father. Reuven says that he can’t believe Danny will become a psychologist and Danny responds that he... (full context)
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Reuven goes to Danny’s sister’s wedding and he is the only person there who is not... (full context)
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Reuven goes over to see Reb Saunders at the end of the school year. As they... (full context)
Chapter 17
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It is Danny and Reuven’s last year of college. Reuven tells a joke to Danny about Hasidim, which Danny finds... (full context)
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Reuven tells Danny that he should find a girl to distract himself. Reuven has been going... (full context)
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Reuven is invited to Danny’s brother’s bar mitzvah. Levi is tall and thin and after the... (full context)
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...to Danny about how he will break the news of his plan to Reb Saunders. Reuven then asks his father about Reb Saunders’ silence and Mr. Malter mutters angrily, “why must... (full context)
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Levi returns from the hospital and Danny tells Reuven that Levi should be fine. Danny then says that he is planning to apply to... (full context)
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...not say anything. Danny’s sister gets pregnant. Danny says that his father keeps asking why Reuven is not coming over on Shabbat anymore. Reuven says that it is because he studies... (full context)
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...in his work to keep his anxiety over his father at bay. Reb Saunders asks Reuven (through Danny) to come over on the first or second day of Passover. When Reuven... (full context)
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Reuven tells his father that Reb Saunders just wanted to study Talmud, and Mr. Malter says... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Reuven comes to Danny’s house to see Reb Saunders. He first sees Danny, who looks very... (full context)
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Reb Saunders asks Reuven what he will do after graduation and Reuven says that he plans to become a... (full context)
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...was learning about the suffering of the world as he needed to. Reb Saunders tells Reuven that he and Mr. Malter have been a blessing. The Master of the Universe sent... (full context)
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Reb Saunders tremulously asks Reuven to forgive him for his anger over his father’s Zionism. Reb Saunders had found some... (full context)
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Danny and Reuven, now alone in the room, both cry. They walk for hours through the streets in... (full context)
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Reuven tells Mr. Malter, who responds that this was possibly the only way to raise a... (full context)
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...days and then get wrapped up in the rush of final exams. Both Danny and Reuven graduate summa cum laude. (full context)
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...the same way and Danny says that he will if he cannot find another way. Reuven asks Danny to come over on Saturday to study Talmud with his father. Danny agrees... (full context)