Real Thoughts on The Chosen

Posted: November 9, 2013 in Articles
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When I read a book for school, I generally have to be tested on content and answer some short answer questions. I can deal with those. What I don’t like are the essays. I have to write two essays per novel and I can’t stand it. Is it normal for a person my age to be terribly interested in the themes of a book or character analysis? Is there something wrong with just enjoying a book? Can’t we just read a book and enjoy it without going to the deep depths Teachers of Literature always want you to go to? Let’s face it. The people who think finding every piece of symbolism, real or fancied, in a novel, are either very old or they have been taught in colleges to believe that this is the way to think upon reading a book.

I would like to suggest that one can read a book and just read the book. As you grow older, perhaps naturally you will have some additional and deeper thoughts on the matter. At my age, I think some things about the books I read – maybe not what I am “supposed” to think about them, but I have my own thoughts.

For instance, I had to read The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I wrote a paper on it. In my paper, I didn’t say what I really thought about the book. Instead, I discussed some deep matters about the internal structure of the plot. I had my own thoughts on The Chosen, but they wouldn’t have fit into an essay, so I thought that I’d put them up on the blog. Here are a few of my thoughts on this book.

One thing that I noticed is that the main characters, Danny and Reuven, work very hard. They not only complete their work from school, but they also do extra work. Danny studies four pages of Talmud a day according to an agreement with his father. He also visits the library and reads a lot of books. He is able to absorb what he is reading quickly because he has a photographic mind. Reuven also reads a lot, but not as much as Danny because he does not have a photographic mind. But he does do more work than is required of him. Because Danny and Reuven were such hard workers, they actually inspired me to work hard too.

I also thought that it was interesting to see how Reuven hears accounts of battles in Europe. WWII happened a pretty long time ago. It is history for us now, but for Reuven, it was a current event. While Reuven is in a hospital, he hears about the fighting going on in Europe on the radio. After he gets home, he listens to reports of the war with his father. I don’t know why that struck me, but I guess it’s because it’s difficult to grasp that real people just like us existed for real so long ago.

The writer also did a skillful job of making history very believable. Other historical novels that I have read usually make obvious exactly which event in history they are going to enlarge upon and how it is going to create conflict in the plot. There is not too much other content besides the “main” event. In The Chosen, a world event that had an impact in Reuven’s personal life was WWII (because of the war, Reuven’s father became very involved in Zionist activities and this eventually led to Reuven being separated from Danny); nevertheless, the book is not focused on WWII. Instead, the plot is centered on something very different, but with WWII still playing a part. Reuven hears WWII reports on the radio while going about his daily life. Something about the way this was written and laid out made a big impression on me. I guess I was impressed because it was very realistic. For example, I heard little tidbits concerning the Iraq war when I was little. Those tidbits made an impression, but they weren’t too lasting because I had other things going on. That is similar to the way it seems to be with Reuven. He hears about the war, but he is a busy person, so he doesn’t spend that much time caught up in it.

Also, I noticed that there was a huge stir when Franklin Roosevelt died. Reuven was in the middle of a student council meeting when the news arrived. The meeting was postponed and everyone involved went home. There were people crying on the trolley that Reuven got onto. The trolley was completely quiet even though it was crowded. There were groups of people on the side of the street, just standing there and seemingly not talking. Reuven himself was crying and his father also cried when Reuven got home. It seemed like everybody was sad and crying, which I found interesting because they didn’t even know Roosevelt. I’m not sure if I would cry for somebody I didn’t know and had never even seen. I would certainly be respectful, but I don’t think I would cry. Maybe it was different back then, I don’t know.

Finally, (here it comes) I enjoyed reading the book. I know that this is the way most kindergarten book reports end, but I really did enjoy it. I enjoyed it very deeply, in fact, and if you have not read it yet, then I recommend it. It was a very satisfying, well written book.

Well, those are the thoughts that I had on The Chosen. I know that they are not very substantial, but this is generally as deep as I go when I am not made to go any deeper.

By the way, my “real” essay wasn’t very good. It took me a long time to write because mostly I had to think about how in the world I was going to write a paper on something I didn’t care about at all. I wonder if all of that is a waste of time and effort.

by Dink

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