Shaping One's Own Destiny: Chaim Potok's The Chosen

Essay by lucasdanfordHigh School, 10th gradeA-, November 2014

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Danford 1

Lucas Danford

Honors English 10

Amy Warren

18 September 2012

Shaping One's Own Destiny

Imagine a young man who has immense intellectual power but whose strict religious traditions are holding him back from realizing his true potential. He must make a choice: consent to his father's wishes and follow in his footsteps to become the leader of his congregation or break free of his religion and also his father's wishes in order to realize his life as a scholar. This is the main conflict that is presented to the reader in Chaim Potok's The Chosen. Going against his father's wishes in order to become a psychologist is difficult but rewarding in the end.

The young man discussed is Danny Saunders, who is intended to follow in his father's footsteps and take his place as the tzaddik for a group for Hasidic Jews. But Danny then meets Reuven Malter, a young Orthodox Jew, after Danny hits a ball at Reuven during a softball game and damages Reuven's eye.

When Danny visits Reuven at the hospital to apologize, the duo become fast friends, and Danny confides that he has been visiting the library where Reuven's father, David Malter, frequents. Danny has been asking David for suggestions of books to read, then discussing them with him. This is where the seeds of Danny's wish to expand his mind are planted.

Danny is fascinated by how much knowledge he is able to intake while reading a book. However, he is terrified of what his father might do if he discovers what Danny has been doing because the Hasidic culture has a set of strict religious traditions that shape how Hasids live their lives. He continues his studies in secret instead of addressing the problem.

The reader gains more insight...