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The Chosen: Novel Summary: Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Reuven is awoken by a commotion in the ward. People are cheering and he hears loud voices. It turns out they are excited about the news from the war, since the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, has begun. Reuven, Mr. Savo and Billy all listen to Reuven's radio and learn about the invasion. Billy says his uncle is a bomber pilot.
Reuven puts on his tefillin. Tefillin are scriptural passages in small boxes worn on the forehead and arm during prayer and worship. The word is sometimes translated as "phylacteries," which is the word the nurse uses. Reuven prays for the safety of the Allied soldiers.
In conversation with Mr. Savo, Reuven reveals that his father wants him to be a mathematician. However, he is not sure what he wants to do. It is possible he may become a rabbi.
Mickey, a sick boy of about six, comes in from another ward, and Mr. Savo plays catch with him. Mrs. Carpenter, the nurse, tells him to stop, and take some rest.
Reuven receives a visit from Mr. Galanter, who is excited by the war news. His next visitor, to Reuven's amazement, is Danny. Danny is the last person he would have expected to visit.
Danny says he is sorry for what happened, but Reuven is angry with him and tells him he can go to hell. Danny says he came to talk to him, but Reuven says he does not want to listen. He tells Danny to go home, and Danny departs, still insisting that he is sorry.
After supper, Reuven's father visits, and Reuven tells him about Danny's visit. Malter speaks sternly to his son and tells him that according to the Talmud, if a person comes to apologize for having hurt you, you must listen and forgive him.
After his father leaves, Reuven regrets what he said to Danny.
Reuven spends the following morning listening to the radio, and is surprised to have another visit from Danny. This time he is pleased to see him, and he apologizes for his behavior the previous day. Danny says he does not understand his own feelings during the baseball game. He literally wanted to kill Reuven after Reuven pitched the curve ball at him.
They engage in conversation, comparing how much time each spends on Talmud studies. Danny studies four pages a day, compared to Reuven's one. Reuven is amazed that Danny can do that much, and study English as well. Danny then recites about a third of a page of Talmud word for word. He says he has a photographic mind. He also explains to Reuven that he is going to become a rabbi, and eventually take his father's place as head of the sect. He has no choice in the matter, since the position is inherited. If that were not so, he says, he might become a psychologist instead. Reuven is surprised to hear that, and talks about how he likes the idea of becoming a rabbi. He would enjoy teaching and helping people when they were in trouble. Becoming friendly toward each other, the two boys discuss baseball. Danny explains that he had told his father that Reuven's team were the best around, and that his team had a duty to beat them at what they were best at. Otherwise his father might not have allowed them to have a team.
Danny says he will visit again the next day.
In this chapter, Reuven continues to provide evidence of his character that is in keeping with what the reader has seen so far. Not only is he very intelligent, he is committed to his Jewish religion. He prays wearing tefillin, and he tells Danny that he wants to become a rabbi. He is extremely thoughtful and very considerate of the feelings of others, as is seen in the delicate way he handles the visit of Mr. Galanter.
But the real interest in this chapter is in Danny. Up to now, he has seemed a strange, aloof figure, dressed in the garb of a fundamentalist sect, and so fanatical about winning at baseball that he hits the ball directly at the pitcher, as if he wants to hurt him. It looks as if he and Reuven are going to be serious rivals, if not open enemies.
But now there is a turnaround. When he visits Reuven in the hospital, Danny reveals himself to be human after all. He is sorry for the injury to Reuven's eye, and after they have talked for a while, the two boys are well on their way to becoming friends.
Danny is the most important character in the story, and this chapter gives the first clues about the difficult situation he is in. He has a very demanding father who has very high expectations about the capabilities of his son. Danny is also bound by tradition to succeed his father as head of the Hasidic sect. But in spite of his obvious intellectual brilliance, he does not seem very excited by the prospect. He seems to prefer to become a psychologist. Although at the moment this is only an idea in his mind, the Hasidic sect to which he belongs pursues a very narrow education, and his father would surely not approve if Danny were to express an interest in psychology. Although the reader has not yet met Danny's father directly, the difference in the two father-son relationships is already clear. Reuven and his father are close, and communicate well. Reuven is free to go into whatever profession he chooses. His father actually wants him to be a mathematician. Although David Malter is a teacher, Talmudic scholar and writer on Jewish issues, he does not insist that his son be the same. But Danny's father appears to be more authoritarian. When Reuven asks Danny what would have happened had the Hasidic team lost the baseball game, he says, "I don't like to think about that. You don't know my father."
So there is some reverse parallelism in the two relationships: Reuven's father wants him to be a mathematician (a secular profession), but Reuven wants to be a rabbi (a religious profession); on the other hand, Danny's father assumes Danny will become a rabbi, but Danny wants to be a psychologist. It is easy to see who is going to have the easier passage in life.


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