Literature Study GuidesThe ChosenBook 2 Chapter 5 Summary

The Chosen | Study Guide

Chaim Potok

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The Chosen | Book 2, Chapter 5 | Summary

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Summary

Reuven Malter and his father go home. They are greeted by Manya, their Russian housekeeper. The Malters eat a massive lunch while Manya hovers. Reuven is seeing—or re-seeing—his apartment anew. The flowers take shades that have heretofore been almost invisible to him. He notices the pictures on the walls of the hallway of Herzl, Bialik, and Chaim Weizmann.

Reuven describes his room, with its war maps, photos of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Albert Einstein, and the WQXR Bulletin. He goes into his father's study, but his father is working. He notes the book-lined walls and goes outside to the porch to rest.

He lays on the lounge chair, listening to the sounds of his world, and thinks about Danny Saunders and the week that has passed.

Analysis

Although little happens in terms of plot advancement in Chapter 5, with its descriptions of Reuven Malter's sight, it reinforces the use of eyes and sight as symbols in the novel. Reuven understands that even the familiar can look different. And viewed through the lens of his burgeoning friendship and his gratitude for being home and loved, everything is sweeter and more beautiful.

The maps and photos of contemporary political and scientific figures on Reuven's bedroom wall show that he is a part of the larger, secular world, and believes he has a place in it as well. He remembers there was a symphony he wanted to listen to the week before. For the Hasidic community of which Danny Saunders is a part, the music might be seen as a distraction from study. In the Orthodox home in which Reuven lives, the symphony is beloved for its beauty.

The photos in the hallway of the Malter home all represent iconic figures in Zionist history. Herzl is considered a founder of modern Zionism. Bialik, a poet, wrote both in Yiddish (his mother tongue) and Hebrew, which had been considered a sacred tongue. His work contributed to the revival of Hebrew as a vital spoken and written language. Weizmann was an influential Zionist in Britain who went on to become the first president of Israel. The photos make clear the political affiliations of the Malter family.

Manya, who speaks little English, cannot effectively communicate with Reuven, as he speaks no Russian or Ukrainian. David is able to speak with Manya, however. It is clear that Manya loves Reuven. It is also clear by this point in the novel that Reuven is motherless and it is Manya who feeds him and cleans the apartment. There are so few female characters in The Chosen that effectively rendering Manya mute means the only female voice ever heard is that of Mrs. Carpenter, the nurse in the hospital, and she only appears briefly in the first few chapters. The world created in The Chosen is a man's world.

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