The Chosen is a novel based on the friendship between two Jewish boys in the timeline of World War II. Reuven Malter was the narrator through which the story is portrayed. He came from a very traditional orthodox Jewish background and was a son to David Malter who was a known scholar and worked for a humanitarian organization. The other Jewish boy who was a protagonist alongside Reuven was Danny Saunders, who was a passionate psychologist and was gifted with a photographic memory. He was the son of Red Saunders who was a pious and extremely religious man, and head of the great Hasidic Dynasty. This story explores the cultures and settings of the two boys and how their friendship lasted between all the commotion of the two cultures in an American Society. The story opens with a game where Danny is seen to have injured Reuven while playing, causing his eyes to bleed. Reuven was immediately taken to the hospital after the incident. Danny, who felt extremely guilty for injuring Reuven, paid a visit to him in the hospital and apologized for his mistake. Reuven was very adamant and did not forgive Danny in the beginning, but after listening to his father, he forgives Danny and then their friendship takes off. Danny shares his thoughts about becoming a successor of his father in the Hasidic dynasty and becoming a rabbi. He also admits that he was very passionate about becoming a psychologist which contradicted his father’s wishes. Reuven finds out that Danny was raised in a very confined household setting and that his father hardly talked to him. Danny also shares that studying the Talmud with his father was extremely boring as it did not give him enough knowledge so he had started reading scholar books from the public libraries. Danny had a different perspective towards God and even though his religion abided him to obey God at all costs, he was not all that sure about God’s intentions. Danny learns from Reuven that he was interested in becoming a Rabbi even though it was not mandatory for him and realizes the irony that it was quite the opposite in his own context. Reuven showed great interest in the religious book of Torah and visited Danny many times at his home where him, Danny and his father mutually discussed the contents of the book. One day during Reuven’s visit, Danny’s father decided to speak to Reuven privately. Reb Saunders asks about what Danny had been up to since he was aware that Danny would sneak off to the public library. He wanted to know what it was that Danny was studying in the public library. Reuven ended up telling the truth. He informed Danny’s father about the books he had been reading and how Danny had been getting assistance from Mr. Malter on selecting the reading material. Reb expresses his sadness that he cannot communicate with Danny since he was too knowledgeable and states how much Danny truly meant to him and he only wanted to help.
Mr. Malter had fallen extremely ill after suffering from a heart attack. Reb Saunders had asked Reuven to come over and stay with their family until Mr. Malter had recovered. This gave a scope for Danny and Reuven to get even closer in their friendship. They ended up discussing various Jewish subjects and literature. Mr. Malter would tell the boys about the history and how the Jews were killed in masses by the Nazis and that the American Jews must have the responsibility of building their lineage again for all the losses. Mr. Malter also shared how he wanted a Jewish State in Palestine and that Jews wanted a messenger to arrive and save them. This viewpoint of Malter highly contrasted with Reb Saunders who believed that Palestine will not become a Jewish state. Danny and Reuven both enrolled in the same high school together in the fall. There, Danny was very upset with how the Psychology program discredited one of his favorite psychologists. In college, Danny becomes the head of the Hasidic student body. Reuven meanwhile focuses on becoming a rabbi while equally worrying about his father’s deteriorating state in his Zionist activity. Danny shares with Reuven how the college curriculum did not support experimental psychology in practice and this continued to annoy Danny a lot in his stay. Reuven then asks him to openly discuss the matter with his psychology professor so that they can understand what Danny required to advance in this line. Danny heeds the suggestion and his professor gives him a fruitful insight. With Reuven’s guidance in Mathematics, Danny elevates in grades. However, this does not stay long. Mr. Malter delivers a speech, directed to all the Jewish people to come together and demolish the British control of Palestine and demanded a Jewish state in Palestine. Even though Reuven found the speech exhilarating, Reb Saunders became very angry. Danny’s father then asks Danny to never associate with Reuven during his time in college. After this shocking revelation, Reuven tells this to his father, Mr. Malter who consoles his son for his broken friendship. Danny and Reuven do not speak to one another for the rest of their semester. Reuven constantly kept worrying about Danny, how he has been, if he was getting along with people there. The two boys had a friendship break for their fathers’ conflicts. This does not end there. Conflicts between Mr. Malter and Reb Saunders worsen with time. While Reb Saunders kept fighting for the religious equities in Israel, Mr. Malter kept preaching and demanding for a Jewish State in Palestine. On November 29, 1947, the UN had declared Palestine to be divided into an Arab and Jewish State. Reb Saunders urged people to ignore the announcement and move on with their protest. However, the ignoring of the UN’s declaration did not work much as the state of Israel was officially established. This made Reb Saunders anti- Zionist movement calm down and dissolve with time. Danny and Reuven were again, allowed to talk to one another and the wall was broken.
After Danny consulted with his professor about his problems with the curriculum, they had been helping Daniel a lot with psychology. His professor had suggested Danny pursue his doctorate degree in clinical psychology in the future. This meant Danny had to refuse his father’s succession and becoming a rabbi and formulate himself entirely in his passion for psychology. Danny decides to share his thoughts with Reuven and conclude that he has to let his father know about this. Danny also gets suggestions from Mr. Malter who was very sure of Danny’s decision from the very beginning. Reb Saunders invited in Reuven during a holiday and that is the chance that Danny took to let his father know about his decision. Reuven informs Reb that he wishes to become a rabbi and accepts his previously offered opportunity which Reuven had turned down because he was still very upset over the past incidents. Reb Saunders apologizes to both of the boys for becoming the wall between them when they had absolutely nothing to do in this. This was, maybe, the intention behind Reb inviting Reuven over to his place, to apologize to the boy who looked up to him. Reb Saunders also realized that Danny had already chosen a different path as he had guessed earlier. While Danny was stealthily applying for college programs in psychology, it was inevitable for Reb to come across any letters from the university. Reb Saunders acknowledged that Danny was very intelligent and that the walls of a Hasidic dynasty will never be enough for Danny to grow. During the dinner, he also opens up to Danny about why he was raised in silence so that Danny was clearer about the world as it is and not influenced by his father’s views. He places his trust in Danny in his decision and gives him his full support in becoming a psychologist. Danny and Reuven graduate together from the college. Danny then soon sets out to fulfill his dream at Columbia University and he gets rid of his earlocks and beard which were the symbolic identity of the Hasidic background. Mr. Malter and Reb Saunders both give Danny their blessings and asks him to come and visit them often since Colorado was not that far away. Meanwhile, Reuven stayed back and decided to educate himself on the knowledge required to become a rabbi under the guidance of Reb Saunders.
The story ends with Danny pursuing his passion and Reuven pursuing his through their friendship and all the hurdles they had to face.
All in all, the novel had been a window to two different perspectives that played into the plot of the story, one from Danny and another from Reuven. Even though in our everyday lives, elements such as politics do not necessarily seem as the most influential part in our personal lives but this novel takes a dive deeper and unclogs how these come to affect our personal relationships.