Book 1 Summary

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The Chosen explores the friendship between Jewish Reuven Malter and Hasidic (Jewish Orthodox) Danny Saunders. In Brooklyn during World War II, Danny hits Reuven in the face with a baseball, giving him a concussion. Reuven undergoes an operation to remove a piece of glass from his eye. In the hospital, he meets former boxer Tony Savo and Billy Merrit, a young boy blinded in a car accident. Danny visits Reuven and confides that his father expects him to become a rabbi, though he wants to be a psychologist. He also explains that his father disapproves of apikorsim (Jews who are not extremely orthodox) such as Reuven. Reuven's father, David Malter, urges Reuven to become friends with Danny because the Talmud (the book of Jewish holy law) says the two things one should acquire in life are a teacher and a close friend. When Danny calls again, the boys talk about religion and reading. Danny regularly visits the library to read books recommended to him by an old man who turns out to be Reuven's father. Danny explains that his father is a tzaddik (a Jewish spiritual leader), and that after his father dies he will be obliged to become tzaddik, too, for "if the son doesn't take the father's place, the dynasty falls apart." Danny comments on the irony of being forced to become a rabbi while Reuven freely chooses the same fate. Reuven's eye is healing, and his father arrives at the hospital that afternoon to take him home in time for Shabbat (sabbath).

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Book 2 Summary