Coming Of Age Experiences In Chaim Potok's The Chosen

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INTRO: The novel The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, explores the coming-of-age experiences of two young men, Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders, highlighting the ways in which their changing vision and perception contribute to their personal growth and development; through their ability to see beyond their own perspectives, to appreciate the complexities of human emotion, and to understand the importance of tradition and community, Danny and Reuven are able to emerge as mature, thoughtful individuals. The use of vision to foster compassion for the pain and agony of others is portrayed as a crucial element of identity formation for both Reuven and Danny. As their physical vision worsens, the young boys are exposed to more suffering throughout the world. …show more content…

At a competitive baseball game, Danny hits a ball straight into Reuven’s prideful eye, sending him to the hospital. Feeling guilty and confused, Danny visits him and upon his return from the hospital, Reuven reflects on his interaction with Danny: "Somehow everything had changed. […] I felt I had crossed into another world, that little pieces of my old self had been left behind on the black asphalt floor of the school yard alongside the shattered lens of my glasses." (Potok 84). In this passage, Reuven describes the effects of his hospital experience: his perception, on all levels, has been broadened and deepened by his accident, by the suffering he witnesses, and by his interaction with Danny. Before meeting him, Reuven did not interact with Hasidic people but, immediately, he feels a deep connection …show more content…

David Malter and his son, Reuven, Danny Saunders discovers passions and interests that deeply impact his perceptions of others while simultaneously reigniting his belief in Hasidism. In line to become a tzaddik, Danny lives a highly restricted and censored life, despite being intellectually curious and defiant. He relays his feelings of shame to a patient friend, Reuven, as he studies a historian’s account of Hasidism: "His eyes were dark and brooding. 'It feels terrible to have a great scholar like Graetz call Hasidim vulgar and disgusting. I never thought of my father as a priest of Baal. […] I never knew about any of these things. […] What an image it gives me of myself,'" (Potok 129-130). When he first encounters the derogatory text, Danny does not know how to react. He feels betrayed and offended and cannot process the information. He is “dark and brooding” and limited in what he can take away from his experiences, but after educating himself and growing in confidence, Danny is prepared to take on the world: “His beard and earlocks were gone, and his face looked pale. But there was a light in his eyes that was almost blinding. […] Danny nodded, his eyes glowing, luminous," (Potok 244). By the end of the novel, Danny, assisted by the Malter’s, has been exposed to more of the beauty and suffering in the world than he ever could have been before. Inspired by the knowledge acquired by the many hours spent in the library, Danny

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