Potok’s making themes parenting
Themes parenting in the works of Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok’s dominant themes
The chosen takes place in an Orthodox community in Williamsburg,
Brooklyn which is shaped by Jewish people. The novel is the story of two Jewish
teenage boys. An ultra-religious Hasidic Jew named Danny Saunders and a Modern
Orthodox Jew named Reuven. They both come from complete different worlds, but
only lived five blocks away from each other for 15 years, but neither of them
knew about each other’s existence. Until the baseball game, in which Danny hits
a very hard baseball against Reuven’s head. It seemed like the two would become
enemies of each other but instead Reuven and Danny became best friends. Their
friendship is tested from all directions, from religion, education to
father-son relationships. Take the case of the difference in faith and the fact
that their fathers are exactly the opposite of each other. Which brings up making
difficult decisions and problems in friendships. As has been noticed, the themes
of the novel The Chosen unfold through the friendship of Danny and Reuven.
The choices Danny and Reuven make will affect their point of view in
religion, education and the relation between them, their family and friends.
Different religions with its traditions?
The conflict between the regular and the religious?
Conflicting religions creating tension in the book?
The novel The Chosen focuses on the different sorts of the Jewish
faith. Hasidim are ultra-religious Jews who live within their centuries-old
beliefs and traditions. They look different than most of the people, the Hasidic
men are bearded in black suits or long black coats and women in high necked
loose dresses with wigs covering their hair. Zionism is the belief in a Jewish
homeland for the Jewish people, in Israel. Reuven, comes from a family which
views Judaism from a different lens. While Danny comes from a family which is very
strict and observant Hasidic. Danny struggles with making a decision about
studying psychology rather than following his father’s footsteps to become a rabbi.
He’s fighting against his family’s expectations because he wants to follow his
own dream, studying psychology. With Reuven its totally the opposite, he is an
Orthodox Jew, especially talented at mathematics, but wants to become a rabbi
when he grows up. The chosen focuses also on the different sorts of Jewish
faith. And between the piousness and fanaticism in both religion and life.
Hasidic Judaism, has strict rules which are based on hundreds of years of
tradition and demonstrates how close it can be to fanaticism. To sum up, the
big difference between the two religions is creating a tension in the book.
“You remember what the Talmud says. If a
person comes to apologize for having hurt you, you must listen and forgive him.”
This quote references to the Ten Days of Repentance. When someone has
done something, wrong or hurt someone else during the year but not apologized,
in that ten days you are obligated to do that.
The way of shaping life
Having to choose and being chosen
The title already introduced this theme. Being chosen or having the
right to choose yourself has a religious understanding. It associates to the
idea written in the Torah which says that Jews are the people who are chosen by
god. This is seen in the novel in the way that Danny and Reuven’s fathers learn
their children what responsibility they have towards god and off course the
Jewish laws. As a result, it brings up the questions. Is there a free choice
within their belief or must Danny and Reuven follow the path which is already
given to them as being chosen? In the novel, what the characters choose or are
chosen to do will determine how their life will be.
The way he acts and talks doesn’t seem to fit what he wears and the way
he looks. It’s like two different people (P. 26)
This quote shows how Reuven starts to get a better understanding by not
just judging the cover from its book.
Opposites on how to become mature
The religious implications shown in father-son relationships
The novel The Chosen, written by Chaim Potok, introduces the readers to
many relationships including the one shared between a father and his son. The two
father-son relationships in the novel are between Danny and Reb Saunders, and
Reuven and David Malter.
Danny and Reuven are deeply influenced by their fathers. It dominates
the novel. Reuven’s mother has died before the novel began, and Danny’s mother
is not mentioned briefly throughout the entire novel. The father of Danny, Reb Saunders,
chose to raise Danny in silence. Which means that Reb Saunders doesn’t speak to
his son, with one exception, namely while studying the Talmud because of the
Hasidic tradition. The belief in silence seems to be important as a tool for developing
compassion. The father son relationship seems to be cruel and showing the
confusion and mystery which can be part of such a relationship. It is cruelling
for both Danny and rabbi Saunders. For rabbi Saunders, as well because he believes by acting like this he makes
the best out of Danny’s life.
The father of Reuven also learns his son how
to read the Talmud, but by using careful thinking and close reading. Both two
complete different ways to may raise a son.
“You can listen to silence . . . and
learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me
sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it.” (p.
In this quote, Danny speaks, alluding to his upbringing, in which his father
never spoke to him except during Talmud study.
The themes became the parents of the novel
To conclude, the themes in the novel are one
by one playing an enormous role. They are affected by the point of view of
Danny and Reuven in the themes religion, having to choose or being chosen and
father-son relationships. It all influences the choices Danny and Reuven decide
Danny and Reuven made decisions influenced by
religion, education and father-son relationships. Which last for a life time.