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The Chosen: Novel Summary: Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Reuven is taken to the Brooklyn Memorial Hospital, accompanied by Mr. Galanter. His left eye is still extremely painful, and he is examined by a doctor, who calls in his colleague. Then a third doctor, Dr. Snydman, examines him and asks that he be taken upstairs to a place where they have more sophisticated equipment. Reuven thinks that a piece of glass may have scratched his eye, and that was what is causing the pain. He is concerned about how worried his father will be when he gets the news.
Some time elapses. Reuven awakens in a hospital ward. His eye is bandaged, and the pain has gone. In the bed to his right is a friendly man who also has an eye injury, shown by the black patch over his right eye. He is a professional boxer named Tony Savo, who was injured in the ring. On Reuven's left is Billy, a boy of about ten or eleven, who is blind.
Reuven is served a meal and he discovers that it is Monday afternoon, the day after the baseball game. He has been asleep all that time. He chats with Tony and Billy, and finds out that Billy is to have an operation that may restore his sight. Then Reuven's father arrives. He tells Reuven that Dr. Snydman operated on his eye, and removed a piece of glass from it. It will heal in a few days, and then he can come home. But Reuven realizes that his father is holding something back, and it transpires there is a possibility that scar tissue will grow over the eye and damage his vision, perhaps even blind him in that eye.
David Malter tells his son that Danny's father, Reb Saunders, has called him and told him that Danny is very sorry for what happened. But Reuven is angry with Danny, since he believes that Danny deliberately tried to hit him. His father rebukes him for speaking badly of Danny, since he cannot know what the boy's motivation was.
Mr. Malter also brings a radio so that Reuven can keep up on the news from Europe. The invasion of Europe (D-Day) is to happen soon. For the time being, Reuven is not allowed to read.
After his father leaves, Reuven thinks about what it might be like to be blind in one eye. He has never thought much about his health before, as he has never had reason to. He then thinks of Billy, and tries to imagine what it would be like to be completely blind.
One of the themes of the novel is the relationship between fathers and sons, and this chapter shows how Reuven and his father regard each other. Malter is a fond father, who also provides moral guidance to his son-he will not let his son speak badly of Danny-and Reuven accepts his authority. Malter is not in the best of health, and his son worries about him, noting how pale and thin he looks. There is obviously a warm relationship between them, one of deep mutual affection and respect. When Reuven guesses he is holding something back regarding his eye, Malter admits to his son, "I have never been good at hiding things from you, have I?" The relationship between them is important for the structure of the novel, since they will be contrasted with the relationship that exists between Danny and his father.
Reuven's stay in the hospital gives him a glimpse of the suffering of others, and he shows that even at the age of fifteen, he has a compassionate heart. He is kind to Billy, translating his Jewish name Reuven into Robert so it will be easier for Billy to remember, and then shortening it to Bobby. Even though Reuven has worries of his own, he does not focus exclusively on himself. Imagining what it would be like to be blind, like Billy, he shows he has empathy for the young boy.
It is also made clear that Malter and Reuven take an interest in world affairs. They follow the progress of World War II keenly. The tide of world events will become increasingly important as the novel unfolds.


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