Summary: Chapter 11
That school year, Reuven is elected president of his class. Although he and Danny still meet regularly on Shabbat afternoons, they never get around to discussing Freud. In the winter, the Germans launch a major offensive; everyone is preoccupied with the events of the war and with keeping track of American casualties. After several exciting rumors that the war is nearing an end, Danny catches the flu and is bedridden for a week.
On a Thursday afternoon in April, Reuven learns that President Roosevelt has passed away. The news devastates Reuven. He had thought of FDR as being immortal, and he compares hearing the news of his death to hearing that God died. He returns home to listen to the radio with his teary-eyed father. Less than a week after Roosevelt’s death, Reuven comes home from school with a high fever and is bedridden for ten days. That May, Reb Saunders and Reuven’s father also become sick. They are both seriously ill when the world learns that the War in Europe has ended.
At first everyone is joyous following the news of the surrender, but then the terrible reports of the German concentration camps shock and sadden the Jewish community. David Malter breaks down in tears, and Reuven is overwhelmed by the stories of destruction and devastation. Danny’s father talks wistfully of the Jewish world in Europe and of the brutal persecution Jews have experienced throughout history. The next Shabbat, Danny and Reuven meet with Danny’s father, but they do not study Talmud. Instead, Reb Saunders speaks mournfully about European Jewry and questions how God could let such terrible things happen. Reb Saunders’s conclusion, that everything must be a part of God’s will, is an answer neither Reuven nor his father can accept. David Malter tells Reuven that it is up to Jews in America to preserve Jewish tradition, now that Hitler has destroyed most Jewish culture in Europe.
After Reuven’s final exams that year, his father suffers a heart attack. In the first few frightening days following the episode, Reuven is cared for by Manya, the Malters’ housekeeper, but soon Reb Saunders invites Reuven to live with him while Reuven’s father recovers in the hospital. On the first day of July, Reuven moves into Danny’s room.
Summary: Chapter 12
The Saunderses treat Reuven like a member of the family. Danny’s mother constantly heaps food on his plate, and Danny’s sister jokingly teases the boys, calling them David and Jonathan, the inseparable biblical pair. Levi Saunders, Danny’s brother, floats around the house, sickly and silent. Most perplexing, Danny’s father broods constantly and occasionally breaks into tears for no apparent reason.
Danny and Reuven spend all their time together. They finally have the discussions they were unable to have during the busy school year. Danny patiently explains Freud to Reuven, and Reuven is astounded by the depth of Danny’s knowledge and by the unsettling nature of Freud’s theories.
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