[T]o be counted as a loyal American had become increasingly important to us during these last years of war. (1.14)
You probably remember this passage from the beginning of the novel. The boys play baseball in order to be identified as loyal Americans. As we know if we remember McCarthyism, this kind of identification can be dangerous. As the boys grow, they learn that being a loyal American is as personal a thing as religion, and that it doesn’t have much to do with baseball.
Danny and his teammates took the baseball-war metaphor that we see in the early parts of the novel to extreme. Some of this is complicated play, but part of it speaks directly to Danny’s identity at that time. He is so lonely, frustrated, and trapped, that he really does feel like killing somebody.
"Good to meet you, Reu─ Reu─ how’s that again?" "Reuven─ Robert Malter." (2.185)
Reuven takes on kind of a dual identity in this moment, or, rather, his identity fragments. His name becomes a symbol of his difference from the people around him, and he chooses to neutralize this difference by changing his name to something neutral. Many of you probably have "unusual" names. Have you ever modified it when speaking to a stranger? Or maybe you think your name is too plain and boring, or that it doesn’t express who you are. Or maybe you just don’t like your name and decide to make all your friends call you something of your own choosing. Since our names are given to us by others, they are an interesting factor in identity.