The Chosen

The Chosen Character List

Danny Saunders

At the start of The Chosen Danny Saunders is a fifteen year old Hasidic boy, the son of the tzaddik Reb Saunders and thus destined to follow in his father's footsteps as the leader of his Hasidic sect. Yet Danny Saunders possesses a monumental intellect that cannot be satisfied by his instructions, which are almost primarily in religion, and instead wishes to study psychology despite the obvious conflict between the irreligious tenets of Freudianism (of which he is a great admirer) and his Hasidic belief. After injuring Reuven Malter in a softball game, Danny Saunders becomes his friend and thus finds greater access to a more secular society, but still must face the conflict between his father's wishes and his Hasidic background on one hand, and the more secular life that he desires on the other. Despite the conflicts of belief between him and his father, Danny never condemns his father for his often cruel treatment, but rather thinks it a necessary component of his training as a tzaddik.

Reuven Malter

He is the narrator of the story, and begins The Chosen like Danny Saunders as a fifteen year old boy living in Brooklyn, but he is from a less orthodox religious background and attends a more secular yeshiva. He becomes friends with Danny Saunders after Danny injures him during a softball game, and serves as a line of communication between Danny and his father, who speaks to Danny only when they discuss the Talmud. Although Reuven and Danny become friends, Reuven dislikes his father because of his stern treatment of Danny and his later command that Danny be forbidden to have any contact with Reuven because of his Zionist views.

Reb Saunders

He is a tzaddik, a leader of a Hasidic sect and thus a man who inspires great respect and awe from his followers. Reb Saunders is a stern man who has suffered greatly, having fled from Russia during the Bolshevik revolution with his followers after the murder of his wife and children, and he retains an absolute conviction in his Hasidic beliefs. Although capable of kindness and compassion, Reb Saunders treats his son harshly, speaking to him only when they discuss the Talmud in order to prepare him to become a tzaddik himself. Perhaps the most problematic question of the novel is whether Reb Saunders' fanaticism and harsh treatment of his son is justified in any way; although Reuven Malter begins to hate Reb for his tyrannical behavior, Danny Saunders forgives and even justifies his father's behavior as good preparation for becoming both a tzaddik and a scholar.

David Malter

The father of Reuven Malter, David Malter is a more secular Jew who serves mainly to offer historical perspective on Jewish culture and a broader viewpoint on Hasidism to contrast with Reb Saunders' absolute conviction in his faith. David Malter is a critic of Hasidic beliefs, but nevertheless admires Reb Saunders for his talents and laments that, had he not become a tzaddik, Reb Saunders could be a great man. David Malter suffers a heart attack during the course of the novel, and after recovering he becomes devoted to promoting Zionist causes, leading Reb Saunders to forbid Danny's friendship with Reuven.

Professor Nathan Appleman

He is Danny's professor of psychology, an instructor who holds great contempt for the followers of Freud, much to Danny's dismay, and instead places great emphasis on experimental psychology that does not test human subjects. Professor Appleman's attitudes greatly concern Danny until he speaks with him and finds that the Professor has respect for Freud but wishes to place psychology in a more scientific perspective.

Professor Rev Gershenson

One of the professors at Hirsch College, Professor Gershenson teaches the highest course in the Talmud. Danny is immediately placed in this course upon entrance into the college, while Reuven enters the class the next year. Reuven becomes worried when Professor Gershenson does not call on him as he does the other students, but nevertheless receives an A in the class and the respect of the professor after he answers a complex and difficult question.

Mr. Galanter

He is the coach of Reuven's softball team, a gym instructor in his mid-thirties who teaches in a nearby public high school and supplements his income by teaching in Reuven's yeshiva.

Tony Savo

He is a professional prizefighter in his middle thirties who is in the hospital ward with Reuven. When he mispronounces Reuven's name, Reuven tells him instead that his name is Robert and spends much of his time playing with the children in the hospital ward.


He is a young boy in the hospital with blond hair slightly younger than Reuven. He is in the hospital to have eye surgery to fix his vision, but the surgery is not successful. When Reuven calls Billy after he leaves the hospital, he finds that Billy is living in Albany.

Levi Saunders

He is the younger brother of Danny Saunders. Levi suffers from a blood disease that renders him sickly and in often precarious health, thus jeopardizing the chance that he may take Danny's place as a tzaddik.

Davey Cantor

He is one of the players on Reuven's softball team.

Dov Schlomowitz

He is a batter on Danny's softball team whose appearance fits his name (Dov means 'bear' in Hebrew). Reuven later sees him at Danny's house.

Sidney Goldberg

He is one of the players on Reuven's softball team.


He is one of the players on Reuven's softball team.

Dr. Snydman

He is the doctor who treats Reuven in the hospital.


He is a young child around six years old at the hospital. Mr. Savo plays catch with Mickey, who has rarely been out of the hospital since his birth.

Mrs. Carpenter

She is one of the nurses on the hospital ward where Reuven stays.


She is a Russian maid who is the servant in the Malter household.