Study Guide

The Chosen Chapter 17

By Chaim Potok

Chapter 17

  • It’s Danny and Reuven’s last year of college.
  • One day, Danny tries to explain to Reuven that silence can be listened to, that it speaks, and can enliven a person.
  • Reuven doesn’t understand and Danny tries to explain further, but it’s too much for Reuven to grasp.
  • When Reuven changes the subject and tells Danny he has a (unnamed) girlfriend and that Danny should get one, too, Danny tells him that the Reb has already picked out a wife for him – he sees this as another aspect of the trap that he needs to free himself from.
  • The day after his bar mitzvah, Levi Saunders gets really sick and goes to the hospital.
  • When David asks Reuven why Levi’s illness upsets him so much, he admits that it’s because he wants Levi to be alive to inherit Reb Saunders’ position.
  • David says that Danny will have to think long and hard before he tells his father the news. He will have to anticipate all questions.
  • Danny is "about to be let out of jail," and he must be very careful.
  • He tells Reuven to tell Danny that he can talk to David about it, and he will help him.
  • Soon after this, Levi is discharged from the hospital and seems to feel well.
  • Reuven starts asking Danny about his future.
  • Danny plans to stop looking like a traditional Hassid when he pursues his doctorate.
  • That evening, Danny comes over to talk to David.
  • Danny reveals to him that he will "refuse" to marry his betrothed, and David warns him to be very careful in breaking all this news to his father.
  • Then, he asks him if he can "hear silence." When Danny agrees, he asks him if he’s mad at his dad, and if he understands why his father is silent with him.
  • He shakes his head at both questions.
  • David tells him that all will be revealed to him at some point.
  • When Danny leaves, Reuven tries to get his father to explain this "hearing silence" business, but on that point, David is silent.
  • Danny gets accepted all the schools he’s applied to, and he tells Reuven that the Reb must know by now what’s going on – he must have seen the acceptance letters and put two and two together.
  • Danny wishes his dad would bring it up.
  • Danny and Reuven ponder the Reb’s silence, yet again.
  • Apparently, Danny is the only child his father raises this way, neither his (nameless) sister nor Levi are subjected to the same treatment.
  • Reuven continues to complain about the Reb.
  • Just before Passover, Danny tells Reuven that the Reb has asked to see Reuven repeatedly.
  • Reuven is apprehensive, but when he tells his father, David says that the Reb wants to talk to him about Danny.
  • David tells Reuven he needs to learn how to listen better. When somebody wants to talk to him, he needs to go and talk to them.
  • So, Reuven calls Danny and tells him to tell the Reb that he’ll be over on Passover.