Character Analysis Reuven Malter


Like Danny, Reuven, the narrator of The Chosen, is an Orthodox Jew. But unlike Danny, Reuven can enter the secular world while still retaining his Jewish identity. Interestingly, though, Reuven wants to become a rabbi, while Danny, who is expected to become a rabbi, does not. Perhaps having the freedom to choose what he wants to be in life makes it easier for Reuven to opt for the religious path. Because his father never demands that Reuven become a rabbi, the position remains a possibility rather than an already determined demand. Had Mr. Malter commanded Reuven to be ordained a rabbi, perhaps Reuven would have rejected his father's wish, much like Danny seems to do.

Reuven experiences a great deal of growth throughout the novel. At the beginning of the story, his left eye is injured during a softball game. Although his physical sight is later restored, we see that, metaphorically, he is "blind." At first, he sees Danny only as a Hasidic Jew, not as an individual with thoughts and desires of his own. He looks at Danny and thinks, "Suddenly I had the feeling that everything around me was out of focus." But under the guidance of his father, Mr. Malter, Reuven eventually learns to look beneath the surface of his everyday experiences and perceptions. Not only does he open his mind to Danny, but he also is able to see Reb Saunders as much more than a fanatical, cold-hearted dictator.