Monday, April 7, 2008

"I wanted to kill you"

I have just started reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok, pondering it for a novel I may teach next year, and while I'm not far in it, I was struck by a passage when the two main characters are trying to live their religion and engage in a diplomatic conversation despite the fact that both of them are livid with the thought of being around each other.  I have been pondering when Danny tells Reuven that he wanted to kill him, and explained that if he imagined himself walking up to him and beating open his head with the baseball bat. 

I think the reason that I was struck by this is because even though these two individuals were following what they were supposed to do, they didn't want to be with the other.  We live in a society now where, when people are not happy with another, all we can do is yell at each other, bad mouth them to everyone we know, and spend all sorts of time trying to destroy their name. 

I guess this is especially close to my heart right now because I'm watching Enoch go through a situation with someone who was really a good friend, but has made some decisions that makes him go very somber whenever we talk about it, and for those of you who know Enoch, somber is not a state of being that is familiar to him.  He has had to answer calls and offer explanations for this person's actions and decisions that he didn't know were being made to individuals who are his work associates.  But the thing is, with the exception of those who are directly involved, Enoch has not said a word about it to anyone else.  He has kept his feelings of extreme frustration and hurt over the betraying actions of his friend who professes to be practicing something he is not, but Enoch has the character and will power to keep this to himself.   

I sure admire his integrity.  


Erin said...

Hey! I taught this book to sophomore's. I love this book. Oh, and I have the movie and a really cool video and assignments to go with it if you want about Hasidism - talk about multiculturalism! I guess I naively thought that if you were a jew you were a jew, but there are as many forms of Judaism as there are Christianity...and a great story about friendship and family honor!

Erin said...

Oh, and the main point- which I absentmindedly didn't comment on - is that people seem to have complicated friendship by not being loyal...I say this because most of the books I have read written 40+ years ago, people seem more loyal. I realize I say this about fictional characters, but it is nice to hear about someone who knows what it means to be a friend in good times and hard.

Anonymous said...

And I read it years ago after reading a reference from it in the Ensign. It is a quote from a conversation with him and his father when he has told him he's not going to be a rabbi (I think) about the kind of people that the world needs educated men. Hm. That's not clear, but it makes sense in the book and in the article. After that I read almost everything Potok wrote and he was invited to speak at BYU. I thought that a good recomendation. Mom S.