by Chaim Potok
Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis
For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.
Even though Reuven Malter is sure that Danny Saunders hit him in the glasses with a baseball on purpose, he soon learns that things aren’t always what they seem. At first, Reuven sees Danny as almost sub-human – or, at best, really different from himself. But very quickly, Reuven becomes Danny’s best friend and strongest ally.
Politics can be rough on a friendship, though it’s not Reuven and Danny’s politics that causes problems between them, rather the politics of their fathers. Reb Saunders vehemently opposes the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (what is now the state of Israel). When he learns the extent to which David Malter publicly supports such a homeland, he forbids Danny and Reuven to have any contact whatsoever. On top of that, Danny is constantly watched. One false move, and it’s bye-bye psychology.
When Israel becomes a reality, the Reb relents and lets the boys resume their friendship. But Danny still has two big problems: his father still won’t talk to him about anything but Talmud, and he still hasn’t told his father that he plans to refuse his inheritance and pursue a secular education in psychology. Luckily, on the first day of Passover, 1949, the Reb breaks the silence and gives Danny his blessing to live his dreams.