Study Guide

The Women in The Chosen

By Chaim Potok

The Women

You might be wondering what the deal is with the women in this novel. We never learn the name of Danny’s mother, or the name of his sister (who Reuven thinks is cute), or the name of the girlfriend whom Reuven mentions once toward the end of the novel.

Is this absence of women supposed to reflect something about Reuven, our narrator? We know that his mother died just after he was born, and that he’s been raised by his father and female housekeeper, named, of all things, Manya (who, incidentally, wears "man-sized" shoes). But we don’t really get enough information to judge Reuven by how he talks about women, other than to say that they don’t seem to be very important in his life.

This is one time when we really can’t blame the character. In an interview with Potok, Elaine M. Kauvar asks him why, until his novel Davita’s Harp which has a female protagonist, his novels lacked female perspective. He replied that he "had to make sure all [his] boys were out of the way before [he] tackled the girls." Writing about women seemed an "insurmountable obstacle" to him. He claims that, before writing Davita’s Harp, he was afraid to write about women, because he was afraid of "discovering feminine sensibilities inside himself." He describes writing about Davita as liberating him from that fear. (source)What do you think about that?