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Parenting In Chaim Potok's The Chosen

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What makes the perfect parent? Countless magazines and websites strive to answer the question but often possess differing opinions on what techniques and parenting styles will foster the ideal child. In Chaim Potok’s novel, The Chosen, Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders grow up in polar opposite households. While both practice Judaism, their separate sects often highlight differences in their respective upbringings. Literature mimics real life and while reading, I found myself comparing the boys’ friendship to that of my closest friend and I. Despite the drastic divergence between time periods and settings, post-World War II New York and modern day Suburbia, Reuven and Danny mirror my best friend, Abby, and I. Though disputes can arise, contrasting…show more content…
The Saunders share dinner each night, shrouded in Reb’s silence, whereas the Malter clan discusses the day and the Zionist movement. Towards the end of the novel, Danny reveals to Reuven, “you can listen to silence and learn from it” (267). Reuven cannot comprehend the meaning behind Danny’s statement because of the parenting technique David Malter utilizes; even with just father and son, conversation is constant. Reuven remains unsure of the point Reb Saunders tries to prove until the man orders an end to the boys’ friendship. Only then does he understand, as the boys communicate through looks instead of words. Not only do the parenting styles of each family differ, but the dynamics diverge. It is clear that Reb Saunders will not tolerate anything than what he declares, while David and Reuven act as an equal pair in their family dynamic. Both boys learn from the other’s father. David gives Danny knowledge through reading and books, proving that life involves more than just religion; Reb helps Reuven understand how to overcome differences and understand different points of view. Reb Saunders and David Malter interact with their sons in different ways, yet teach the boys invaluable…show more content…
No matter how busy or hectic the day, the final meal is not optional. Just like David and Reuven Malter, we use it to catch up on the day’s events and to look ahead for the rest of the week. Fast food or takeout never suffices; my dad cooks each and every night. My family and I never stop talking, often ignoring all other responsibilities and commitments. I worked at a grocery store and closed up for the night several times a week, but dinner would wait to begin until I pulled into the driveway, no matter how late. Compared to my house, Abby’s mimics an abandoned ghost town. Weeks would pass without all of the Darmofal clan sitting together. We took dinners at each other’s houses as learning experiments: at mine, Abby would learn why sometimes, family dinner became too much for every night, with my parents’ incessant questioning. At her house, I learned the magic of microwavable meals and becoming self-sufficient, a skill I call upon most days here at USD. Everyone needs to eat, so why not use it as a learning experience? Reuven and Danny, like Abby and I, experience contrasting parenting styles through religion, education, and daily rituals, yet we all grow up into competent, full functioning young adults. Therefore, no “perfect” parent exists. The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true in Potok’s The Chosen and in real life. Children learn from
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