Discuss the role of female characters in The Chosen by Chaim Potok. What accounts for their discernible lack of influence in the book? Was this deliberate on Potok's part? Use evidence from the novel to support your view of this question.

Women have a secondary role in The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

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Women do not have a central role in The Chosen . The story is set in the 1940s. Both Reuven and Danny are members of Orthodox Jewish sects, and though Reuven's is less conservative than Danny's Hasidic branch, neither one includes women in the religious activities forming the center of...

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Women do not have a central role in The Chosen. The story is set in the 1940s. Both Reuven and Danny are members of Orthodox Jewish sects, and though Reuven's is less conservative than Danny's Hasidic branch, neither one includes women in the religious activities forming the center of their lives.

This isn't to say that women have no role in Chaim Potok's story. There is something extremely poignant in the way Manya, the Malters's housekeeper, greets Reuven upon his return from the hospital. And the nurse at the hospital had been kind and solicitous, calling him "young man" and making him feel comfortable. So women can be seen as positive symbols in The Chosen, even if they don't have leading roles. The story is basically an interplay among men, two fathers and two sons, about religion, history, and the meaning and purpose of life.

In other novels, Chaim Potok gives much greater centrality to his women characters. In My Name is Asher Lev, Asher's mother is perhaps the more dominant influence on the young man's life, as he is alienated from his father—unlike Reuven in The Chosen.

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Although the outside of an insular Chassidic community is certainly patriarchal, and most of the affairs of the community would be handled by the men, woman play an important role behind the scenes. Inside Jewish communities, women are every bit as influential as men, just not as obvious about it, and many of the men don't hold jobs or do any significant work other than the study of Jewish law and scripture. Remember that for Chassidic Jews, study is everything; all the minutia of actually running a household and paying bills and so forth is delegated to the women. This isn't true in all cases, but it is very common.

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I agree with #2. Let us remember that the Jewish society being depicted and explored in this brilliant novel is profoundly patriarchal. The way in which the story focuses on two male characters only serves to reinforce this. Men were seen to be the heirs of the family, as is shown in the character of Danny and the way that this dubious inheritance passes down to his younger brother when he manages to escape from the role that was being made for him by his father.

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One factor that may be relevant to this question is that the society presented in the novel is heavily patriarchal.  This is especially true of the traditional community described. In such a community, during the period in which the novel is set, females would have had relatively little power, especially in dealing with the kinds of religious and political matters that are central to the book.

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