by Chaim Potok
The Chosen Theme of Identity
Identity is in a constant state of flux in The Chosen, especially for our hero. His identity has been mapped out for him by his father since he was born. He’s supposed to inherit the position of rabbi in his Brooklyn, New York community. Over time, he rebels more and more against this pre-made identity. If he chooses to break with tradition and turn his back on his inheritance, he risks losing the parts of his identity he wants to keep. Our hero’s identity conflict, and the identity conflict of a world staggering under the horrors of World War II, drive the novel’s action.
Questions About Identity
- Which character has the most fluid identity? Who changes the most?
- Whose identity is most fixed?
- Reuven is constantly saying that he doesn’t understand Reb Saunders. Does he learn to identify with the Reb by the end of the novel, or does he remain bewildered? What does this say about Reuven's identity?
- How does clothing impact identity in the novel?
- At the beginning of the novel, Danny admits that he wanted to kill Reuven. Does this have an impact of Reuven’s identity?
Chew on This
Danny’s desire to become a psychologist is our biggest clue to his identity.
Reb Saunders changes the most over the course of the novel.