Father And Son In Chaim Potok's The Chosen

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Imagine being alive during the height of racism, the Korean War, and Zionism. That was the life of Chaim Potok, the author of The Chosen. Do you think that would have an impact on your viewpoints and your writing? The simple answer is yes but there is more to it. Chaim Potok uses his past experiences to show influences and conflicts between father and son in The Chosen. Chaim Potok was born on February 17, 1929 in the Bronx, New York (“Chaim”). When he was younger he studied in a yeshira, which is a Jewish school (Napierkowski). While describing Potok’s life Michael Cusick says he was “[a]n ordained rabbi who served a chaplaincy in the Korean War, later earned a Phd. in philosophy from an Ivy league university, earned a reputation as a world-class…show more content…
It is shown throughout the story as a major theme of the novel. As Napierkowski says the central characters struggle with the problems of religion but more so the conflicts between father and sons. While Reuven and Danny have a deep conversation Danny says “‘I have to take my father’s place. I have no choice…’” (Potok 82). This is showing that the father, no matter what the son wants, ultimately ends up making the decision for Danny. This is one of the many conflicts that can happen with fathers and sons. Right after Danny says “My family has been the rabbi for six generations now. I can’t just walk out on them. I’m-I’m a little trapped” (Potok 82). Danny does not only feel like his father is forcing him to do it, he also does not want to let down his whole family by turning down becoming a rabbi. Later Reb Saunder while talking to Reuven says “Later we will talk more. I want to know my son’s friend. Especially the son of David Malter” (Potok 130). Reb Saunders wants to be more connected to his son’s closest friend and be apart of his life this is one of the connection throughout the story. Reuven while thinking about the situation with Danny says to himself “Poor Danny… your father with his bizarre silence-which I still couldn’t understand, no matter how often I thought about it-ia torturing your soul” (Potok 222). There are different connections between fathers…show more content…
This changes the way he thinks and changes his view. Also during the 1960s was the struggle for civil rights. February 1960 four black students sat at a whites-only counter in Greensboro, North Carolina (Williams). Not only did Potok deal with the assassination of the president he also was around during one of the worst times of racism. The racism and anti-racism movement eventually got violent, “Student activists became more radical. They took over college campuses, organized massive anti-war demonstrations… some even made bombs and set campus building on fire” (Williams). Eventually it got even worse when Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated (Williams). Even though the racism was terrible, there was something else going on in the world that was even worse for Potok because it hit home. Zionism was a big topic during Potok’s life and with him being Jewish this directly affected him and his writing. There are arguments between Zionists and anti-Zionists but also within the Zionist community. They all agree on a holy land but can not agree on a government (Beauchamp). Finally the Korean war was another big event during his life, but there’s more to it, Potok fought in the Korean war. Napierkowski says the Korean war and the world of Judaism had the biggest effect on Potok and his work. The Chosen, written by Chaim Potok shows the life of a boy that could be closely related to Potok’s life. The time

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