The Chosen

The chosen by: Chaim Potok

How do relationships between the two boys and theur fathers convey the theme of communication?

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Non-Verbal Communication

The characters in Potok's story communicate to a great extent through means other than direct verbal communication. The most obvious example of this is the strange means by which Danny and his father behave toward one another, speaking only to one another when Reb Saunders asks him questions about the Talmud on Shabbat. Yet other examples of this also arise throughout The Chosen. When Reb Saunders enforces his ban on Reuven after David Malter gives his speech on Zionism, Danny Saunders and Reuven continue to communicate through eye contact and subtle gestures. Even the relationship between Reuven and his father displays marks of non-verbal communication; the two characters leave a great deal unstated when they speak to one another, as when they purposely avoid discussing the possibility that David Malter may soon die. The recurring theme of non-verbal communication demonstrates that two characters can reach an understanding without directly stating facts.

Father-Son Relationships

Potok develops the theme of father-son relationships through the parallels between David and Reuven Malter and Reb and Danny Saunders. The paternal relationship dominates the novel; Reuven's mother has died before the novel began, and Danny's mother receives little more than a brief mention throughout the entirety of the novel. Potok allows a great deal of flexibility in the father-son relationship, suggesting the multitude of ways that a father may raise a son such as Reb Saunders' strict training as compared to David Malter's open and direct relationship with Reuven. Potok also endows the paternal relationship with a strong sense of lineage; as the son of a tzaddik, Danny Saunders is expected to be a tzaddik as well, while even Reuven uses his father for his sense of history, which he passes down to his son. Perhaps the most striking illustration of the importance of father-son relationships in The Chosen is Danny's response to David Malter's question of whether he will raise his son in silence, for Danny's answer that he will do so unless he finds a better way essentially validates Reb Saunders' methods and emphasizes this role of paternal lineage.