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by Chaim Potok
The Chosen Chapter 18 Summary
On the afternoon of Passover, Reuven makes his way over to Danny’s to meet the Reb. Everything seems quite the same in the Reb’s study. Reb Saunders greets Reuven warmly, and Reuven apologizes for not coming sooner. The Reb asks Reuven about his plans, and, when he hears that Reuven is going into the rabbinate, he looks somewhat surprised. Then, he tells Reuven that Danny has chosen a different path. Now, it’s Danny’s turn to look surprised. The Reb continues to speak to Reuven, and to Danny, through Reuven. He talks about his brother, the one who disappeared, leaving the Reb to carry on the family line. His brother eventually died in a concentration camp. The brother was apparently as brilliant as Danny, but there was a coldness to him, a soullessness. Then, the Reb starts explaining why he’s been silent with Danny. It was something he learned from his father. The silence is a form of suffering by which a person can gain empathy for others. The Reb imposed the silence because it was a family tradition, but also because he did not want Danny to be coldly brilliant like the Reb’s brother. For Danny’s brilliance to be real, it must be tempered by suffering. Through silence, Danny has learned to feel the suffering of the world. Reuven doesn’t understand, and the Reb knows it. But Danny understands exactly what his father is talking about. After his explanation, the Reb gives Danny everything he wants – that is, his father’s blessing to pursue his dreams of psychology, to shave his beard and earlocks, and to break the arranged marriage. The Reb breaks down and cries. He addresses Danny directly and begs Danny for forgiveness. Then, he leaves the room and it’s Danny’s turn to start bawling. Finally, Reuven starts crying, too. In the morning service, the first Shabbat in June, the Reb tells his followers that Levi, not Danny, will inherit his position. At the end of the month, Danny and Reuven graduate from college. Before Danny goes off to Columbia University that September, he visits David and Reuven. His earlocks and beard are shaved. Reuven asks Danny if he will raise his son, if he has a son, in silence, the way his father raised him. Danny says that he might – unless he can find a better way. Reuven walks Danny out, and Danny continues down the road, and then the novel ends.
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