Critical Analysis: The Chosen

Critical Analysis: The Chosen

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I was caught off guard by Chaim Potok's The Chosen. Through the first few pages of the novel, I was a bit skeptical of the rest of the story, however, after the first chapter, I was unable to put it down. The story, which was focused mainly on two teenage boys, Reuven and Danny, who managed to developed a friendship despite their vastly different religious Jewish backgrounds kept me engrossed. I was amazed at how the initial distrust and hatred for each other gave way to understanding, and developed into a deep friendship. From the baseball game to the end of the novel, I felt as though I was right there with them, through all of the church services and Shabbat meals.

Although both boys develop more and mature throughout the story, Reuven becomes the most developed character. One of the most predominant ways that he develops is in his understanding of friendship. His friendship with Danny is actually encouraged by his father, but at first, he is wary of it because Danny is a Hasid, and regards Orthodox Jews as "apikorism" because of the teachings of his father. Reuven transforms from being unable to participate in a casual conversation with Danny to becoming his best friend in life with whom he spends all of his free time, and later goes on to college with.

Another area in which Reuven grows is in his ability to appreciate different types of people and their ideas. In the beginning, he has a cold hatred for Hasidism because it's the pious thing to do, even though his father reassures him that although it's okay to disagree with ideas, it is intolerable to hate them for it. Through the years of friendship with Danny, Reuven studied with Reb Saunders, and spent time in the Hasidic community, which caused him

To realize that Hasids are real people too, and that their personal values and beliefs are just as valuable as his own. Through his process of maturing, Reuven learns why Danny's people act, speak, think, and dress the way that they do, and also comes to grips with the fact that he doesn't have a "monopoly" on virtue.

The third way in which Reuven grows, although it is not directly addressed throughout the book, is his appreciation for life. He almost loses his vision for his life, and his father works himself nearly to death, and six million Jews are killed in Europe.

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After the massacre, so to speak, Reuven observes Reb Saunders and his father suffering from the great loss; Reb Saunders sheds many tears and becomes silent, while his father begins working for the creation of a Jewish state and being the leader in that movement, in addition to teaching at a yeshiva.

By the end of this novel, Reuven is a completely different character. This piece demonstrated to me how two people from completely different backgrounds can form such a strong bond and friendship. Whether or not their own families approved, they maintained a long and lasting friendship, which in my opinion, is something that we all long for in life. Also, after reading this book, I realized even more than before that we, as Christians, need to be open and willing to learning about other religions, even if we do not necessarily agree with them. The lesson that Reuven's father taught him about it being okay to disagree with peoples ideas, but that it is intolerable to hate them for their ideas is something that we all need to realize.

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