The following questions were given to Monmouth College freshmen to guide them as they read
the summer Freshman Seminar Text, Chaim Potok's The Chosen.
1. Do the prejudices prevalent within the Jewish community parallel any group conflicts that
exist today? Do you or people you know perpetuate stereotypes about other groups similarly to
the way that Reuven perceives Danny and other Hasidic Jews during the first few chapters of the
2. What conditions led to Reuven's hatred of Danny in the first two chapters of The Chosen?
What factors brought about the discovery of their friendship?
3. How do Reuven's attempts to handle his hatred toward Danny initially, and later his hatred
toward Reb Saunders, reflect or differ from the conflict resolution strategies you use in your own
4. What parallels exist in the first few chapters between war (World War II) and sports
5. Explain the following comment that is attributed to Mr. Malter (Reuven's father): "the first
important step in anyone's education is to know your own people." (156)
6. Explain Danny's comment that "we're blind about the most important thing in our lives, our
own selves." (156)
7. What roles do women play within The Chosen?
8. The Chosen reflects the traditions and rituals common within the Hasidic community
especially. Identify common rituals and traditions practiced by your own community and your
9. Danny's father and Reuven's father have career expectations for their sons that differ from
their own. Explain whether or not your ideal career goals differ or mirror the expectations of
those closest to you.
10. Contrast and compare the communication patterns in your own family to that of the Saunders
family and the Malter family.
11. Explain what Danny and Reuven gained from their friendship with one another. Why did
their fathers encourage their friendship in spite of the significant cultural differences?
12. What is the possible symbolism of eyes in The Chosen? In answering this question, draw
upon Potok's discussion of Billy, Mr. Savo, Reuven's near loss of eye sight, Danny's need for
glasses, and Reuven's story about the spider and the fly.
13. Discuss the symbolism of the book's title, The Chosen. Ultimately, who represents "the
chosen" in Potok's novel?
14. What different methods existed for the production of knowledge in The Chosen?
15. Can we accept contradictory ideas, as Danny did by studying Freud and the Talmad
16. Explain Mr. Malter's quotation that, "If learning is not made public, it is a waste." (149)
17. Explain the distinction Danny makes between "reading" Freud and "studying" Freud. (181)
18. As a child, certain knowledge is restricted from Danny and other Hasidic Jews. Is there any
knowledge that you have been restricted from in the way that Potok depicts the Hasidic
community's attempt to restrict knowledge from its followers?
19. Discuss the significance of the library in The Chosen.
20. Explain your views on the following statement offered by Mr. Malter: "A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant . . . A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life." (217)