Chaim Potok’s use of silence helps to exemplify the utter sorrow and angst of the Anti-Zionist Hasidic League (led by Reb Saunders) when the bloody fighting is occurring in Palestine. The League, which was previously contesting Zionism and the development of Israel without the coming of the Messiah via papers, flyers, and rallies, grew oddly silent with the comings of more violence in Palestine. “…as Arab forces began to attack the Jewish communities of Palestine, as an Arab mob surged through Princess Mary Avenue in Jerusalem…as the toll of Jewish dead increased daily, Reb Saunders’ league grew strangely silent.” (pg.240). The silence of the Hasids showed just how depressed and grief-stricken they were with the acts of violence against their people. They were so passionately opposed to Zionism that it would have had to take a very powerful series of events to get them to turn their energies away from crushing Zionism to another subject—which is what the events in Palestine did. It was like it was worse for them to witness such events than it was for the Zionists to make headway, which really is saying something. “Their pain over this new outbreak of violence against the Jews of Palestine outweighed their hatred of Zionism. They did not become Zionists; they merely became silent.” (pg.240). That silence also helps to magnify the anguish that all th...
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...And the world needs a tzaddik.’ ”
Silence was used in many different ways throughout this book. It was used to demonstrate and strengthen character emotions and reactions, and it helped to add depth to important or poignant moments in the story. It was used to show thought process or hard decisions and impeded thoughts. Though they were all different, they were the same in that they were all used to emphasize emotions and to amplify the messages in the story, as well as the imagery. Anguish, pain, and anger in particular were emotions that appeared many times in the story and were almost always accompanied by a silence that amplified their qualities. Chaim Potok’s use of silence in The Chosen deepens the meaning of the story, helps to clarify and outline its emotional structure, and makes the anecdote more thought provoking and inducing for the reader.
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