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 that are portrayed in the novel are between David and Reuven Malter, and Reb and Danny Saunders. Throughout the novel the readers learn more about the father-son relationships and are able to notice three differences between the two relationships in The Chosen. The first difference between the father / son relationships in The Chosen is the difference in the style in which Danny is being raised compared to Reuven.
Reb Saunders chooses to raise his son in silence, meaning Reb does not speak to his son, with the exception of studying the Talmud. Danny and his father have not had a conversation since Danny has been four years old, because Reb decides to, teach this mind what it is to have a soul” (The Chosen, p. 265).
The silence between Danny and Reb contrasts the conversations that Reuven and David share. Reuven and his father are constantly discussing issues in their lives and have a very strong relationship based on their communication.
David and Reuven discuss Danny’s visits to the hospital, the Zionism act, and Reb’s choice to raise Danny in silence. Both David and Reuven are surprised at the way Danny is being raised, implementing the importance the two put on speaking to one another. The second difference between the father / son relationships in The Chosen is that David and Reb both wish that their sons would grow up to work in a profession that Danny and Reuven do not want to. Danny wants to become a psychologist, but Reb expects him to become a tzaddik. Danny says he “has no choice.
It is interesting that Elizabeth Jennings has chosen a Father and his Son in this poem rather than a relationship that she is more likely to have had experience with. A Father and his son however, traditionally have a very strong bond built on shared interests with the son generally making his father his role model. The effects and feelings of separation that Jennings wants to convey in this poem ...
It’s an inherited position” (p. 70).
Reuven is inclined towards becoming a rabbi while David prefers he would choose to use his knowledge and become a mathematics professor. Although both fathers wish their sons would choose a particular profession, David and Reb accept their sons’ choices when they realize how dedicated they are to psychology and rabbinic studies. The third difference between the father / son relationships in The Chosen regards the religious beliefs of Reb and David. Both fathers are of the Jewish faith and possess a deep spiritual commitment which they pass on to their sons.
Although David and Reb both study the Talmud, the two fathers interpret Judaism in contrasting ways, which is evident when the topic of Zionism is revealed. Reb Saunders does not agree with Zionist activists, as he believes, “God will build the land, not Ben Gurion and his goyim” (p. 187), and he teaches his son to believe the same thing. David Malter, however, strongly agrees with Zionism and is outspoken about it. Reuven’s own beliefs about Zionism correspond with that of his fathers. Reb’s and David’s different beliefs regarding Zionism leads to a conflict between Danny and Reuven.
Danny and Reuven are raised by two different men in two very different ways. The first difference between the two father / son relationships in The Chosen regards to the style in which Danny and Reuven are being raised. The second difference between the two father / son relationships in The Chosen concerns the fact that Reb would like Danny to become a tzaddik while David would like Reuven to become a mathematician. The third difference between the father / son relationships in The Chosen is about the difference in Reb and David’s religious beliefs concerning Zionism.
Throughout The Chosen Chaim Potok has described and displayed to the readers two very different father / son relationships.