The Chosen: Novel Summary: Chapter 13
Danny is miserable in his studies at college because the syllabus covers experimental psychology rather than psychoanalysis. The chairman of the department, Professor Nathan Appleman, dislikes psychoanalysis because he thinks it is not scientific. In contrast, Reuven is enjoying his studies, which consist of Talmud studies from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon, followed by a normal college curriculum for the remainder of the day.
However, despite his dissatisfaction, Danny's prowess in Talmud studies becomes recognized by everyone in the Talmud Department. He is placed in the highest class, studying with Rav Gershenson, a renowned scholar. He has also become leader of the few Hasidic students on campus.
Reuven and Danny discuss Freud. Danny complains about Professor Appleman, who wants to establish psychology as a science, through the use of experimentation. If something can't be tested under laboratory conditions, as Freudian theory cannot, then it has to be regarded as being dogmatic. Reuven agrees with this, but Danny claims that psychoanalysis is a scientific tool for understanding the human mind, and a much more effective one than the study of rats that are reported in his experimental psychology textbook.
Meanwhile, David Malter has become heavily involved in the Zionist cause, which is promoting the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. He dislikes British policy in the region (the British still rule Palestine at this time), but he also abhors the violence of the Jewish terrorist groups who are fighting against British rule. Malter is not in good health, and he overworks, but he tells Reuven that the work he is doing for Zionism is important to him, and gives his life meaning. As they talk, Reuven confirms to his father that he intends to become a rabbi.
Reuven goes to the college library and looks up some books on experimental psychology. He finds that they either ignore psychoanalysis or speak disparagingly of it. But he is sympathetic to their point of view, since he cannot see how a science of psychology can be built except on the basis of laboratory experiments.
In the second semester of college, Danny reports to Reuven that he has talked to Professor Appleman about Freud. Appleman acknowledged that Freud was a genius, but argued that his approach was based on his own limited experience. Freud's theory of behavior had also been based on abnormal cases. Danny respects the professor, and is reconciled to studying experimental psychology, although he says he does not expect to enjoy it. Reuven coaches him in mathematics.
At the college, Zionism is a heated issue, with the college split between the majority, who support the establishment of a Jewish state, and a minority, including the Hasidim, who oppose it. The disputes are bitter, and on one occasion, almost lead to a fistfight. Meanwhile, David Malter addresses a huge Zionist rally at Madison Square Garden. But Danny's father reads a newspaper report of Malter's speech at the rally, and bans Danny from seeing Reuven. If Danny disobeys, his father will remove him from the college and send him out of town for his rabbinic ordination. He would not have a college education and would not receive a degree. Reuven is bitter, and cannot understand why Reb Saunders would allow Danny to read Freud, but now breaks up their friendship over Zionism. He calls him a fanatic, but his father refuses to condemn the rabbi, saying that the fanaticism of men like Reb Saunders kept the Jewish people alive during two thousand years of exile.
This chapter shows how Danny's encounter with modern secular thought, in the form of Freudian psychoanalysis, develops. He modifies his earlier enthusiasm, and no longer regards Freud as providing a definitive explanation of the workings of the human mind. But he still values Freud for his contribution to knowledge. In learning how to evaluate different approaches to knowledge, Danny is steadily making the transition from his narrow, faith-based Hasidic upbringing, to being at home in modern, scientific thought. It is not an easy journey for him.
Meanwhile, Reuven receives from his father advice about how to create meaning in life. In the previous chapter, Reuven was upset by a series of events-Billy's blindness, President Roosevelt's death, and the Holocaust-and felt there was no meaning in life. His father now explains that "meaning is not automatically given to life." A man must work to give his life meaning, and this is no easy task. Malter himself has found meaning in the Holocaust by throwing all his energy into the Zionist cause. He does not care if all this frantic activity damages his health; he just knows that he has to do it.