The Chosen

Hook, Line, and Sinker: The One that Got Away in The Chosen 10th Grade

In Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, a quote by psychologist Karl Menninger appears in the dedication. It goes, “When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked and finds himself unable to swim about freely, he begins a fight which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes an escape... It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.” In terms of Potok’s novel, Menninger’s words hold substantial significance. Not only can Danny -- with his future decided for him -- and Reuven, who is able to choose his own path, be taken as the novel’s hooked and free fish respectively, but the quote itself also parallels one of the story’s morals.

Being dragged ceaselessly towards a predetermined future, Danny symbolizes the hooked fish, as he must become a rabbi and take over when his father steps down. In the hospital, for instance, Danny and Reuven converse briefly about what they plan to be when they are adults. Reuven asks, “Are you going to take your father’s place?” leading Danny to respond, “I have no choice. It’s an inherited position” (Potok 69). With this particular exchange, it becomes quite clear that Danny has been “hooked” by his father’s expectations of him. His inability to escape these expectations is one of...

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