What is the genre for The Chosen by Chaim Potok?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Potok's award winning novel The Chosen is a story about how two Jewish teenage boys find friendship, relate to their fathers and relate to each other's fathers. The boys meet over a baseball game injury to Reuven, a secularized Orthodox Jew, who gets glass in his eye and is hospitalized because Danny, an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jew on the opposing baseball team, accidentally breaks Reuven's glasses. When Danny appears at the hospital to attempt to apologize for the serious injury he unintentionally inflicted, the door is opened between the restricted Hasidic Jewish world and the open secularized Orthodox Jewish world.

It is a novel within the narrow subgenre classification of Jewish-American Literature and the broad major genre of Bildungsroman, a genre borrowed in name and substance from German critic Karl Morgenstern who first used it to describe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's innovative novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-96), which is Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship in English. The genre features a protagonist who is on a journey from adolescence to maturity that pits him/er against the established order of society (or his faction of society), until his/er journey, which some critics liken to a quest story, takes him/her through peril to mature understanding of society and a newly won place in that society, which the protagonist has come to accept and value.

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The Chosen

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