by Chaim Potok
The Chosen Memory and the Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
When I told him about Danny Saunders’ photographic mind, he nodded as if he had known about that all the time. (4.15)
Danny’s photographic mind is symbolic of some of the novel’s obsessions, like history, the past, remembering the dead, and remembering our ancestors. And, it helps make Danny a fascinating character.
"I have no choice," he said again. "It’s like a dynasty. If the son doesn’t take the father’s place, the dynasty falls apart. The people expect me to be their rabbi. My family has been their rabbi for six generations now." (4.129)
This passage shows that memory and the past can be a burden. The novel struggles with the dilemma of how to honor the past and still be true to one’s self.
"This is what happened to Polish Jewry. By the eighteenth century, it had become a degraded people. Jewish scholarship was dead." (6.11)
Did David’s big history lesson help you understand the novel, or did you find it boring, and tedious and just skip through it? It’s a really long speech but Reuven doesn’t want his father to stop. His friendship with Danny has awakened his desire to "remember" the past of his people. The history becomes almost a shared memory.