See Mr. David Malter
Appleman Danny Saunder’s experimental psychology professor at Hirsch College is Professor Nathan Appleman. Danny is in conflict with the professor and the content of the class because it is too mathematical and at odds with Freudian psychology. His friend Reuven defends the professor and the methods of experimental psychology.
One of the players on Reuven Malter’s baseball team is Davey Cantor. Davey provides Reuven with information about the fierceness of the Hasidic team they are playing. Davey calls the other team “murderers.”
Mrs. Carpenter is the nurse who is in charge of Reuven, Tony Savo, and Billy Merritt while they are in the hospital.
Mr. Galanter is the coach of Reuven Malter’s high school baseball team. He is a dedicated instructor who teaches in public school and coaches Reuven’s yeshiva team on the side.
Danny Saunders’ and Reuven Malter’s Talmud teacher at Hirsch College is Rav Gershenson. He is considered a fme scholar and a warm person. Reuven considers him an exciting teacher. Danny often has long discussions with the professor in class which Reuven resents. Later Reuven learns that Rav Gershenson has great respect for Mr. Malter’s scholarship. Rav Gershenson cannot openly condone Mr. Malter’s methods in class because they question the accuracy of Orthodox interpretations of the Talmud.
Sidney Goldberg is the shortstop on Reuven Malter’s baseball team. The interplay between Reuven and Sidney during the game between the rival yeshivas heightens the tension of the game.
Dr. Grossman is the physician who attends David Malter, Reuven’s father. Mr. Malter suffers a heart attack brought on by his overwork in the Zionist movement, which was pressing for a Jewish homeland after World War II. Mr. Malter ignores Dr. Grossman’s warning to get more rest.
See Tony Savo
See Reuven Malter
David Malter, a respected scholar of the Talmud, is Reuven Malter’s father. Mr. Malter’s relationship with his son is one of respect, warmth, and kindness. In the story, the relationship between the Malter father and son contrasts with Danny Saunders and his affectionless relationship with his father. By accident, Mr. Malter meets Danny one day in the library and begins to tutor him in secular subjects. Reuven only learns later about this relationship. As the story of the friendship between Reuven and Danny progresses from their high school to their college days, the specter of history affects the life of David Malter. He is a staunch Zionist. After World War II, when the survivors of the Holo– caust struggle to establish a homeland in Palestine, Mr. Malter works avidly for this cause to the detriment of his health. He has a heart attack from which he does, however, recover.
Reuven is the son of an Orthodox Jewish Talmud scholar. His relationship with his father is one of mutual respect and open affection. They communicate about world problems, as well as personal ones. Reuven is exposed to Talmudic studies by his father, but he is also encouraged to study secular subjects. He is taught by his father not to take things for granted, but to analyze them with a critical eye. Although he is exposed to logic, mathematics, and philosophy, by the end of the book Reuven decides he wants to become a rabbi. Reuven is the narrator of The Chosen, therefore the reader sees the story through his eyes.
Reuven is the pitcher of his yeshiva at the baseball game where his eye is injured by Danny Saunders. This event begins a relationship that takes the two boys through their high school years into college, where they study the same subjects. Each boy decides on a direction that is in contrast to his upbringing. While the reader expects Danny to rebel against the strictness of what he has been taught, the expectation that Reuven will follow in his father’s footsteps is ever present. The period in which Reuven matures to young adulthood is a turbulent one. World War IT, the Holocaust, and the struggle for a Jewish homeland in Palestine serves as the background for many conversations on the social and political issues connected to the period. As the narrator of the book, Reuven uses the other characters to explain details about various Orthodox sects and how they view important issues like the Jewish state of Israel.
See Reuven Malter
The Malters’ Russian housekeeper is named Manya. David Malter is a widower and Manya takes the role of a substitute mother, cooking and cleaning for father and son. Manya expresses a great deal of affection for Reuven and his father, caring for them both with a display of strong emotion when Reuven is injured and when his father has a heart attack.
Billy Merrit is the blind boy Reuven meets at the hospital when he is taken there to have glass removed from his eye. Billy is waiting to have an operation in the hope that his eyesight will be restored after a car accident blinded him. After a visit to his doctor, Reuven calls Billy’s family to find out how the operation turned out and is disappointed to learn that it was not successful.
Jack Rose is a boyhood friend of David Malter’s from Russia. Mr. Rose is now a wealthy furrier who gives large donations to Mr. Malter’s Zionist causes. Reuven and his father express a fundamental difference in viewpoint in their discussion of Mr. Rose. Reuven disapproves of Rose’s motives for donating money, as well his joining a synagogue for the sake of his grandchildren and not out of any religious conviction. Reuven’s father defends his old friend’s actions and the importance of retaining friends even when you disagree with them.
Danny is the son of a Hasidic rabbi. According to tradition, as the oldest son he is expected to take his father’s place as the spiritual leader of his congregation. Danny is also a brilliant student of the Talmud, exhibiting a photographic memory for details. But Danny is passionately interested in secular subjects, too, particularly Freudian psychology. His relationship with his father revolves around the study of the Talmud. Outside of discourses on this subject, his father maintains silence with Danny. In his yearning to learn more about secular subjects, Danny goes to the library, where he meets Reuven’s father, David Malter. Unknown to his father or to Reuven, who later becomes his friend, Danny is guided in his secular studies by Mr. Malter.
In the opening pages of The Chosen, Danny and Reuven are playing baseball on opposing teams. After Danny causes an eye injury that sends Reuven to the hospital, he goes to see him to apologize. He is first rebuffed by Reuven, but after Reuven’s father scolds him for his behavior, Reuven allows Danny to apologize and their friendship begins. It is through this friendship that both boys become transformed during their high school and college years. As the story opens, Reuven expects to become a professor of mathematics and Danny wants to take his father’s place as ”tzaddik” (righteous one). By the time the book ends, it is clear that Reuven will become a rabbi and that Danny will become a psychoanalyst. Danny and Reuven are contrasted as two young men seeking different professional careers. Their relationship with their fathers is a key element of the story, as well. While both reject what is initially expected of them in the area of a career, it is clear that the author uses these two young men to explore the universal theme of parental rejection. While both move in opposite directions than expected, each finds a way to retain a relationship with his respective father.
Danny’s younger brother is Levi Saunders. When Reuven encounters him at Danny’s home he appears to be unhappy. He often cries unexpectedly and leaves the room, behavior that frightens and bewilders Reuven. Levi becomes ill the day after his bar mitzvah (a coming of age ritual) and is hospitalized. Levi’s illness makes Danny’s decision to pursue psychology even more difficult and adds to his guilt about disappointing his father. Reb Saunders does accept Danny’s decision to go into psychology, and Levi, frail though he is, will inherit his father’s role as spiritual leader.
The personality of Reb Saunders infuses The Chosen with tension. As the spiritual leader of a Hasidic group, he follows strict observances and demands the same from Danny. While Danny’s gift of intelligence and a photographic memory satisfy his father during their study of the Talmud, the silence of their relationship baffles Danny. Reb Saunders believes that the silence between them will strengthen Danny spiritually. He knows his son will suffer and he believes that through suffering he will be able to accept his role as “tzaddik.” This role would involve acting as an intermediary between the rabbi’s followers and God.
Danny brings Reuven Malter to his home to meet his father. Reuven is accepted and frequently attends services with Danny, but he develops a resentment towards Reb Saunders and his harsh, inflexible methods. Reb Saunders likes to test the boys by deliberately making mistakes in the text. When Danny or Reuven catches his error, he is pleased. The warm, open relationship Reuven has with his father sharply contrasts with the wall of silence that Reb Saunders has imposed on Danny. When Reuven complains about Reb Saunders to his own father, David Malter defends the rabbi. Mr. Malter explains to Reuven that devout Hasidim kept Judaism alive for hundreds of years in eastern Europe during centuries of persecution. Reb Saunders does ultimately accept Danny’s decision to study psychology, just as Mr. Malter accepts Reuven’s decision to become a rabbi.
Tony Savo is an ex-boxer who has lost an eye. He shares a room with Reuven when he is hospitalized to have the glass removed from his eye. Tony is a cheerful character who tries to keep everyone’s spirits up, especially the children in the hospital.
Schwartzie is the pitcher on Reuven’s team during the baseball game between the competing yeshivas. Schwartzie complains to Reuven about the way Danny bats the ball.
Dr. Snydman is the attending doctor when Reuven goes to the hospital to have the glass taken from his eye.
Marie Rose Napierkowski, Novels for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Novels, Volume 4, Chaim Potok, Gale-Cengage Learning, 1998