A Book Report
In Chaim Potok's The Chosen, a novel about two Jewish boys from different teachings and beliefs and the friendship that takes place between them, many aspects of strong, healthy friendships are explored and described as the boys' relationship develops and progresses. There are many qualities and difficulties common to all friendships including honesty, trust, support, and the maintaining of a healthy relationship despite coming from differing religious backgrounds.
From the time that Danny first went to visit Reuven in the hospital, a strong and mature action itself, he displayed the honesty that founded the boys' friendship. Even though Reuven apparently did not appreciate his visit, Danny remained apologetic, honest and sincere. From this very beginning, the boys shared an honest, open relationship. These are important aspects of any relationship. Two people cannot begin to learn and cooperate as friends until they can be honest with each other, as well as themselves.
When Danny told Reuven of his library visits and his interest in Freud and psychology, he knew that Reuven would not let Reb Saunders know of it. He trusted Reuven not to give away his secret, and Reuven never did. They were both open with each other because their friendship was based on trust, as well as honesty, which go hand in hand. One cannot be open with a friend if he does not trust that his friend will be honest and supportive with him.
This leads into the next point. Honesty and trust are only the first of many important qualities vital to the friendship between Danny and Reuven, as well as any other. The next aspect of this friendship, and one that seems to be necessary for the two boys to remain honest and trusting, is their constant support for one another. Every time one of them has a problem or a goal, the other becomes very supportive. They encourage each other, listen well, and offer advice or suggest a solution. Keep in mind that this characteristic is only present because Danny and Reuven trust each other, and therefor can be honest and open with each other.
A very significant characteristic of the novel, as well as a kind of on-going moral, is the idea that these two boys who are practically from different societies can become good, life-long friends, setting aside differences in religion and lifestyle. They never judge one another, and they are able to accept each others' beliefs and practices. This is definitely something that can affect all relationships. People cannot share a strong, healthy relationship if they are caught up on insignificant differences. They need to be able to move beyond that and see each other for who they really are on the inside instead of what they look like on the outside. Reuven and Danny would not have had the friendship they did if they hadn't moved beyond the silly aggressiveness of the baseball game in Chapter One and gotten to know each other on the inside.
Throughout the novel Danny and Reuven remain honest, trusting, and supportive to each other despite their differences and the troubles they each have. They are able to communicate easily, and do so quite often. The above listed characteristics are important factors in any relationship. They are qualities evident in all healthy friendships. The two boys guide each other and provide support for each other through many difficult times and overcome many problems together. They help each other, and gain much from the relationship. Potok's creation in this novel can teach us all something about friendship and Judaism.