The Chosen

by: Chaim Potok

Motifs

Over the course of the novel, Reuven and Danny develop and mature as they learn important truths about the world around them and about themselves. Throughout this journey, they become increasingly aware of and sympathetic to the suffering around them. This increased awareness then leads to empathy, humility, and a sense of responsibility—all of which make both Reuven and Danny better people. David Malter and Reb Saunders both display a deep awareness of suffering, and both stress to their sons the importance of empathy. Even though David Malter criticizes Reb Saunders’s zealousness and radical methods, he and Reb Saunders both want to teach Reuven and Danny to cultivate their souls and to care for others. Reb Saunders explains that our knowledge of the suffering of others erases our selfishness and makes us more empathetic and humble. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the “Master of the Universe.”