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The Chosen

The Chosen


by Chaim Potok

The Chosen Chapter 3 Summary

  • Reuven is crashed out, but wakes up to loud noises, a radio up all the way, people cheering, and general commotion.
  • He is able to make out enough of the news to finally understand that it’s D-Day, or the Normandy Invasion. His father’s predictions have come true.
  • Savo gets excited when he sees Reuven’s radio, and Reuven turns it on and makes sure Billy can hear it too.
  • All this war news gets Billy talking about his uncle "who flies planes that drop bombs."
  • Mrs. Carpenter (the nurse) reappears on the scene, and Reuven takes this opportunity to ask for permission to use his phylacteries, which she grants.
  • Pretty hard to tell a kid "no" when he’s asking to pray.
  • Reuven prays that the soldiers on the beaches in Europe will be safe.
  • When he’s done, Tony asks him if he plans on becoming a "priest." Reuven says that he might, but that his father wants him to go in to mathematics.
  • Tony encourages him to be a priest, saying he wishes he’d become a priest instead of a boxer.
  • Reuven listens to the radio all morning, and, after some time, notices that Mr. Savo doesn’t look well.
  • Later, Mr. Galanter comes in, holding a New York Times and looking excited. He talks animatedly to Reuven about the latest developments in the war, and Reuven introduces him to Billy and tells him that Billy’s uncle is a "bomber pilot."
  • Mr. Galanter seems to lose his enthusiasm when he notices that Billy is blind, and loses some even more when Billy asks him if he’s a pilot.
  • Galanter says that he tried to be in the service, but he has "a bad" something. He doesn’t say what, and looks upset.
  • After Galanter leaves, Reuven falls asleep and dreams of waking up in the hospital the day before. In his dream, the sun was blocked out, then shining unobstructed, then blocked again, and he becomes irritated that someone is "playing with the sunlight."
  • He wakes to find Danny Saunders standing near his bed.
  • Danny tries to apologize, but Reuven is angry and he drives Danny away.
  • As you might guess, Mr. Malter is pretty mad that night when he hears about how Reuven treated Danny. He tells Reuven that, according to Talmudic law, when a person comes to discuss something with you, you are obligated to give him/her your ear, especially if he/she has wronged you.
  • But Mr. Malter drops it after that and they talk about the war, and how it’s the "beginning of the end" for Hitler. After his dad leaves, Reuven starts to feel bad about his rough treatment of Danny.
  • After a while, Billy’s dad returns and is friendly with Reuven. He introduces himself as Roger Merrit, gives Reuven his number, and asks him to give them a call sometime.
  • The next afternoon, Danny returns.
  • Reuven is surprised by how happy he is to see him, and apologizes.
  • Danny says that he doesn’t understand something, and wants to talk to Reuven about it in hopes of making it clear.
  • He tells Reuven that he really did want to bash his head in with a baseball bat, really did want to literally murder him – and that’s what he doesn’t understand.
  • Suddenly, Reuven feels like everything is out of focus. All his stereotypes of Hasidim are proving false as he listens to Danny talk.
  • They begin to compliment each other’s baseball skills, and Reuven asks Danny how he learned to hit so well. He says he thought Hasidim only studied, never played.
  • Apparently, Danny and his dad have an agreement that if he studies a certain amount of Talmud everyday, he can do whatever he wants afterward.
  • He learns that Danny’s daily Talmud "quota" is "two blatt," or four pages, which is an enormous amount of work. Reuven barely manages a page a day.
  • He wants to know how Danny does it, and Danny demonstrates his "photographic mind."
  • Danny is surprised to hear that Reuven wants to become a rabbi; he says he will become one, too, though not by choice – he has to inherit his father’s position.
  • Danny is interested in psychology, which really surprises Reuven.
  • Reuven tells Danny he’d be a mathematician if not a rabbi, though he feels he can do more good as a rabbi, helping people in trouble and the like.
  • They begin discussing baseball, and Danny reveals that, though his aim was deliberate with Reuven, he can’t seem to hit the ball other than to the pitcher.
  • He wants to know why Reuven didn’t duck, insisting that he had time.
  • Suddenly, Reuven realizes Danny is right – he did have a chance to duck or move out of the way, but it didn’t occur to him to do it.
  • He didn’t want to be shamed by Danny the way the other pitcher was.
  • So, they agree to not be mad about the whole glass-in-the-eye thing any more.
  • They talk some more about the game, and Reuven tells Danny that what got him angry was hearing all the apikorsim names and the murderous talk.
  • Danny explains that the only way he convinced his father to let him start the league was by convincing him that baseball was sort of a holy war, that Danny’s team had a religious duty to beat Reuven’s team.
  • Things just got out of hand when Danny and his teammates took things too far.
  • Before Danny leaves, he reveals that he and his father don’t talk; his father only speaks to him when they study Talmud.

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