by Chaim Potok
Analysis: What’s Up With the Ending?
The Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesach, takes on special significance in The Chosen. If you are interested, you can check out this website, which is devoted to the holiday. The story of Passover is found in the book of Exodus, the second book of the Torah, and describes how a community of Jews passed over from slavery to freedom when they left Egypt some three thousand years ago. The holiday commemorates and symbolizes Jewish freedom, and freedom in general. Passover lasts for eight days, beginning on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (Here’s info on the Jewish calendar), usually some time in March or April.
In The Chosen, Reb Saunders chooses to free Danny on the first day of Passover. By freeing Danny, he also frees himself, Reuven, and David.
Let’s start with Danny. What exactly is he being freed from? Two very big things: silence and exile. Danny desperately wants to talk to his father, about his life, about things other than Torah. (If you want a deeper discussion of the Reb’s mysterious silence, see his "Character Analysis.") He loves his father and doesn’t want their relationship limited. On the other hand, he is, arguably, willing to give up everything, including his relationships with his father and with the community, in order to pursue his dreams. Essentially, Danny will be banished if he goes against his father’s wishes. If the Reb doesn’t release Danny, Danny will be forced to make a horrible choice that will cause pain and suffering for himself and everyone around him, any way you slice it.
Luckily, he doesn’t have to choose. The Reb gives Danny everything he wants. The silence is lifted, and Danny is free to do whatever he needs to do to follow his own dreams. How much sweeter this will be with the support of a loving father! And, now that Danny is freed by the Reb’s Passover gift, Reuven and David can rest easy and rejoice in Danny’s hard-earned freedom, and the Reb himself is free to enjoy a rich and loving relationship with his wonderful son.
In our book, that qualifies as a happy ending. But, what do you think?