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The Chosen: Novel Summary: Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

Reuven mentions to Danny that he is now dating every Saturday night, and advises him to get a girlfriend too because that will make him less melancholy. Danny replies that according to Hasidic custom, a wife has already been chosen for him.
Reuven attends the bar mitzvah celebration of Danny's younger brother, Levi. But when Levi, whose health is delicate, is taken ill, Reuven worries. He knows that Danny plans to break away from his father and refuse to inherit the position of head of the Hasidic sect. But if Levi is unable to take over the position, the family dynasty would be destroyed, and this would make it much harder for Danny to follow through on what he really wants to do. Reuven tells his father about the situation, and Malter says he knew that Danny would make a break with his father. He asks Reuven to talk to Danny and get him to think about how he is going to explain this to his father. Malter explains to Reuven about the Hasidic practice of raising a child in silence, as Danny has been raised. He does not approve of such a practice.
Danny applies to three universities for a fellowship in psychology, but does not tell his father. Malter has a talk with him about his situation, telling him he must think carefully about what he will say to his father.
Danny is accepted by all three universities, and he decides to go to Columbia. He is afraid to tell his father. In the spring, Danny tells Reuven that his father wants to see him on Passover. Reuven realizes that Reb Saunders wants to talk to him about Danny, since he does not talk to his son directly.
Potok continues to keep the role of silence in the forefront as he builds up to the final scene. Danny tells Reuven that it is possible to listen to silence, and learn from it: "It has a quality and dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it." He also says that sometimes he can hear the pain of the world in the silence. The significance of this will be disclosed in the final chapter.
In this chapter, Reuven lets slip that he has begun dating, and he recommends that Danny acquire a girlfriend. This brief mention of the opposite sex serves to remind the reader of the very small role played by women in the novel. Reuven's mother is dead, and Reb Saunders's wife is only briefly mentioned. Reuven seems briefly attracted to Danny's sister, but that interest is closed off by Danny's comment that she has been promised to someone else. The Chosen is therefore a novel almost exclusively about boys and men, and relationships between them. This is in keeping with the tradition of Judaism, which places a strong emphasis on the male role.


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