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The Chosen | Book 1, Chapter 4 | Summary

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Summary

David Malter comes to visit and he is sicker. He tells Reuven that Dr. Snydman says he isn't allowed to read for at least 10 days. Reuven is envious of the people outside on the street. David says, "No one knows he is fortunate until he becomes unfortunate ... That is the way the world is."

Reuven Malter and his father are looking forward to spending a nice, quiet Shabbat at home together when Reuven is allowed to leave the hospital.

Reuven tells his father about Danny Saunders's visit. David is glad that Reuven has given Danny another chance. He reminds Reuven that the Talmud says a person should do two things for himself: choose a teacher and choose a friend. He implores Reuven to make Danny his friend.

Reuven tells his father that Billy Merrit is going to have an operation to restore his sight. David sighs at the sight of the little boy, blinded in a car accident. David kisses Reuven and, again, as he says goodbye, calls him "my baseball player."

Tony Savo comments that Reuven is lucky to have such a father. He mutters about his own lack of luck.

Reuven is awakened by noise around Mr. Savo's bed. The nurse tells him to go back to sleep. When he and Billy wake up in the morning, the curtain is still around Mr. Savo's bed. Reuven is frightened for Mr. Savo.

Danny comes back to the hospital. The two boys go out into the hall to talk so that they don't disturb Mr. Savo. They talk about books; Reuven is surprised by what Danny reads. Danny tells Reuven that he gets book recommendations from a nice man in the library. They talk about God; Danny admits he doesn't always feel like he knows what God wants, although his father seems so sure. Reuven tells Danny, "I'm all mixed up about you."

Reuven talks about symbolic language. Danny is not good at math but is fascinated by Reuven's enthusiasm.

Reuven sees his father come off the elevator. Danny is astonished to find that David Malter is the man in the library that has helped him find books. His astonishment turns to pleasure and he makes plans to go to the Malters' house on Shabbat.

Reuven is a little hurt that his father never told him about Danny, but David says it wasn't his secret to tell. He is pleased that Danny has told Reuven about his secular reading. He tells Reuven he will go home the next day, pending a good exam.

Reuven wakes up to Billy gone; he is in surgery. Mr. Savo has lost his eye but prefers not to let Billy know. Dr. Snydman comes out of surgery and examines Reuven. He is cleared to go home.

Analysis

David Malter tells Reuven that the Talmud exhorts man to choose a friend. Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders choose each other, giving Talmudic importance to their friendship. By reading secular books and discussing them with David, Danny is also choosing a teacher.

Reuven and Danny talk about philosophy and religion. Reuven is confused by Danny's nondogmatic understanding of God. He sounds, with his reading of secular texts and his admittance that he doesn't know what God wants, like the apikoros he accuses Reuven of being.

David is clearly astounded by Danny and his gift. Because David is obviously a man of intellect, his reverence for Danny's intelligence underscores just how gifted Danny is.

Tony Savo never appears again in the novel. He represents the world outside of insular Williamsburg, and the Jewish world in which Reuven is immersed. Mr. Savo is kind and gentle toward Reuven who, although religious, looks very much like any other conservative 15-year-old boy. He is suspicious of Danny's religious zealotry, which for him is symbolized by Danny's clothing. From Mr. Savo, Reuven learns that the larger gentile world can be kind, but it can also be suspicious and lonely. With the loss of his eye, Mr. Savo allows Reuven to see how lucky he really is.

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