Study Guide

The Chosen Chapter 18

By Chaim Potok

Chapter 18

  • On the afternoon of Passover, Reuven makes his way over to Danny’s to meet the Reb.
  • Everything seems quite the same in the Reb’s study.
  • Reb Saunders greets Reuven warmly, and Reuven apologizes for not coming sooner.
  • The Reb asks Reuven about his plans, and, when he hears that Reuven is going into the rabbinate, he looks somewhat surprised.
  • Then, he tells Reuven that Danny has chosen a different path.
  • Now, it’s Danny’s turn to look surprised.
  • The Reb continues to speak to Reuven, and to Danny, through Reuven.
  • He talks about his brother, the one who disappeared, leaving the Reb to carry on the family line. His brother eventually died in a concentration camp.
  • The brother was apparently as brilliant as Danny, but there was a coldness to him, a soullessness.
  • Then, the Reb starts explaining why he’s been silent with Danny.
  • It was something he learned from his father.
  • The silence is a form of suffering by which a person can gain empathy for others.
  • The Reb imposed the silence because it was a family tradition, but also because he did not want Danny to be coldly brilliant like the Reb’s brother.
  • For Danny’s brilliance to be real, it must be tempered by suffering. Through silence, Danny has learned to feel the suffering of the world.
  • Reuven doesn’t understand, and the Reb knows it.
  • But Danny understands exactly what his father is talking about.
  • After his explanation, the Reb gives Danny everything he wants – that is, his father’s blessing to pursue his dreams of psychology, to shave his beard and earlocks, and to break the arranged marriage.
  • The Reb breaks down and cries. He addresses Danny directly and begs Danny for forgiveness.
  • Then, he leaves the room and it’s Danny’s turn to start bawling.
  • Finally, Reuven starts crying, too.
  • In the morning service, the first Shabbat in June, the Reb tells his followers that Levi, not Danny, will inherit his position.
  • At the end of the month, Danny and Reuven graduate from college.
  • Before Danny goes off to Columbia University that September, he visits David and Reuven. His earlocks and beard are shaved.
  • Reuven asks Danny if he will raise his son, if he has a son, in silence, the way his father raised him.
  • Danny says that he might – unless he can find a better way.
  • Reuven walks Danny out, and Danny continues down the road, and then the novel ends.