Some notes on Chaim Potok's The Chosen generated by Tom Sienkewicz for his Freshman Seminar class at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illnois. If you have comments or suggestions about this material, you may contact Prof. Sienkewicz at

List of Characters:

Reuven Malter

Daniel Malter

Danny Saunders

Reb Saunders

Levi Saunders

Tony Salvo

Billy Merrit

Rav Gershenson. Talmud scholar at college

Some important historical figures of reference in the book include:

Solomon Maimon, pp. 113, 159. Great Jewish scholar and apokorisim of late eighteenth century

Israel, Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism

Adolf Hitler

Sigmund Freud

Franklin D. Roosevelt

What is the significance of the Menniger quote at the front of the book?

Book One

1 The Softball Game

Things to note:

"fenced-off ghetto mentality", pg. 12

Mr. Galanter's military metaphors

baseball as mark of Americanism, pg. 14

righteousness vs. sinfulness, pg. 58

2 The Hospital

Things to note: blindness, pg. 58


At least the following languages are mentioned in this book: English, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian. Under what circumstances is each language spoken?

What is wrong with Tony Salvo and with Billy? How do their case histories compare with Reuven's?

3. Danny

Note lack of choice, inheritance pg. 74, 86

Discuss Danny's attitude toward Sigmund Freud.

Note silence, pg. 76, 169-170


Friendship, pg. 79

Danny learns identity of Reuben's father

Book Two

5 The Apartment

How does his hospital stay affect the way that Reuven views his familiar surroundings?

6 History of eastern European Jews and the birth of Hasidism

Describe the relationship between Reuven and his father.


Reuben meets Rev Saunders

Reuben's test of worthiness. How does he pass?

How does Rev Saunders' sermon have special meaning for Danny?

8 In the Library and in Reb Saunders' study


textual exegesis


two weeks after accident

Billy Merrit's blindness


Danny figures out how to read Freud


new school year, 1944-45

ending with death of Roosevelt and end of war

learning about the Holocaust

Mr. Malter's first heart attack


summer of 1945

Reuven lives with the Saunders

rise of Zionism and Reb Saunders' anger

Book Three


first semester of college, 1945

experimental psychology

Mr. Malter becomes a Zionist

his speech at rally

Daniel is forbidden contact with Reuven


spring semester of 1st year of college, 1946

fall semester of 2nd year

Danny's silence

Rav Gershenson's Talmud class

Discuss pedagogic method. Public examination. Public embarrassment.

U.N. Partition Plan for the Middle East

Mr. Malter's second heart attack

Reuven's exegesis of the Talmud


Mr. Malter returns from hospital

birth of Israel

Arab-Israeli war, May, 1947

Danny's silence ends in September


Danny plans to earn doctorate in psychology

marriage of Danny's sister


last year of college, 1947-48

bar mitzvah of Danny's brother

Levi's illness

Reuven avoids Rev Saunders until Passover


the silence breaks

story of Rev Saunders' brother