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The Chosen

The Chosen

by Chaim Potok

The Chosen Chapter 4 Summary

  • After Danny leaves, David Malter shows up. He looks terrible and is still coughing. He says that he’s talked to Dr. Snydman, and Reuven will be able to go home on Friday.
  • Reuven fills his dad in on Danny’s visit, and David tells him that the Talmud says to do two important things:
  • "Acquire a teacher," and "choose a friend."
  • He tells Reuven that, if he can, he should choose Danny and be his friend.
  • Later, Reuven admits to Tony Savo that the ball in the face was really an accident, and that he could have moved out of the line of fire, but did not.
  • That night, Reuven wakes up to some commotion and sees that Tony’s bed is enclosed by a curtain. A nurse comes by and tells Reuven to go back to sleep.
  • When he wakes in the morning, the curtain is still drawn.
  • Remember that dramatic irony we were talking about? It’s pretty obvious to us from the goings on that Savo had an operation, but, for some reason, Reuven doesn’t put two and two together, even though he fears something is very wrong with his new friend’s health.
  • That afternoon Danny arrives, to Reuven’s great happiness.
  • The boys leave the hospital room to talk privately.
  • At one point, Danny is looking out the window, and he says that sometimes he thinks people are like ants.
  • Reuven says he feels that way too sometimes.
  • Danny admits that sometimes he doesn’t know what God wants and that he doesn’t believe his fathers teachings, surprising Reuven.
  • Apparently, he reads about seven or eight books every week. He has to sneak to the library and read in secret, because his father forbids him to read non-religious texts.
  • When Danny brings up Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, the thing with the ants becomes a little more clear.
  • He describes a famous passage from the novel to Reuven. It has to do with Frederick Henry, the novel’s narrator, remembering how he doesn’t save a bunch of ants on a log in a burning fire.
  • Danny thinks the passage "shows how cruel people can be."
  • Lucky for you, Shmoop’s guide to A Farewell to Arms speaks at length about this passage. Feel free to check it out, under Frederick Henry’s "Character Analysis."
  • Anyway, it seems that Danny has been meeting a mysterious man at the library, who tells Danny what books to read!
  • He says that other people are too afraid of his father to recommend books to him.
  • Reuven is all mixed up about Danny, and he tells him so. Danny does not meet the descriptions of Hasidim that he claims to have heard from his father.
  • He tells Danny that he sounds like an apikoros (the singular of apikorsim), and he can’t believe Danny’s going go ahead with becoming a rabbi.
  • But, Danny has to go along with it. It’s an "inherited position."
  • He says he’ll be able to do whatever he wants and read whatever he wants when he’s the rabbi, and no one will ask any questions.
  • But he also says that he’s not going like it.
  • Reuven says that he shouldn’t spend his life doing something he doesn’t want to do.
  • Danny is the seventh generation in his family of rabbis; he feels the weight of all those other rabbis on his shoulders.
  • He’s "trapped."
  • Danny changes the subject to mathematics.
  • Reuven loves logic and is interested in "mathematical logic." Danny says he’s no good at math.
  • Danny is impressed with Reuven’s knowledge of fascinating mathematical concepts and types of math, and learns that Reuven reads a lot of books, though only three or four a week, not seven or eight like Danny.
  • Reuven sees his father come out of the elevator.
  • As Danny sees David Malter, he looks shocked.
  • Turns out, David is the mysterious man who has been suggesting books to Danny!
  • He knew who Danny was because Danny applied for a library card, which he was too afraid to ever use, but Danny didn’t know his name.
  • Reuven can’t believe his father never said anything.
  • It was not his secret to tell; it was Danny’s secret, not his.
  • Danny expresses gratitude to David, but David says it’s nothing. He says that, soon, Danny won’t need him any more – he’ll be able to find his own books. He offers to teach Danny how to find the books he needs.
  • Danny invites himself over to Reuven’s house on Saturday, and Reuven eagerly gives him the address.
  • After Danny leaves, Reuven and David discuss Reuven’s release from the eye ward tomorrow.
  • Reuven wants to talk about Danny and his confusion, but David is exhausted and has to go sleep. They plan to talk over the Shabbat table.
  • (Shabbat, or the Sabbath, begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. There are three meals in that period, so we’ll have to wait to find out what Mr. Malter means.)
  • Back in the eye ward, Reuven sees that Tony is still behind curtains, and now Billy is behind curtains, too. He asks the nurse what’s up with Billy, and she tells him Billy is just resting, that he’s OK.
  • Reuven sleeps.
  • When he wakes up on Friday morning, Tony is awake and grinning at him. Billy is missing from his bed. Apparently, his operation is today.
  • Savo isn’t feeling well, and says he’s been having a rough time.
  • Around 10am, Mrs. Carpenter takes Reuven to have his eye examined.
  • The lights are dimmed so the light won’t hurt Reuven’s eye, which has been closed beneath the bandage.
  • Dr. Snydman, who looks tired, removes the bandage and…
  • Reuven’s eye is fine and Snydman says that he can go home, but he has to come back in ten days for a follow-up.
  • He tells Reuven to keep his head away from baseballs, and Reuven thanks him profusely.
  • On the way back to the eye ward, Reuven asks Mrs. Carpenter if Dr. Snydman is performing Billy’s operation.
  • To Reuven’s relief, she answers that Snydman is doing Billy’s eyes, too.
  • Reuven and Savo chat until David arrives to take Reuven home.
  • When David arrives, Reuven and Savo exchange good-byes and Savo tells Reuven that he’s lost his eye. His operation was unsuccessful.
  • Reuven says he’s sorry and Savo says it wouldn’t have happened if he’d become a priest.
  • They say good-bye again, and Reuven and his father leave the hospital.

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