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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Reuven wakes up to noises, shouting, and the sound of the radio blaring. When he looks around, he sees that Mr. Savo is not on the bed next to him. He also sees Mrs. Carpenter, the head nurse, trying to subdue the patients. Finally Reuven is able to make out from the radio announcements that the Royal Air Force bombers have been attacking the enemy coast, indicating the war is reaching its climax. When Mr. Savo returns to his bed, he, the blind boy, and Reuven listen to the radio for further news. As they talk about the war and life, Reuven reveals to Mr. Savo his desire to become a rabbi.
Reuven has several visitors. The first is Mr. Galanter, who excitedly talks about the news of the war. Then Danny Saunders comes for a visit. He deeply and sincerely apologizes for having hit Reuven with the ball at the baseball game, but Reuven is too angry with him to even listen to his apologies. He simply sends Danny away. Reuven's father arrives next. He is also excited by the events in the war. Then when he hears about Reuven's behavior towards Danny, he scolds his son for being inconsiderate and rude.
The next day, Reuven is permitted to walk around a bit. Surprisingly, Danny also comes for another visit. This time Reuven is civil, and the two boys actually talk to one another, mostly discussing baseball. Danny admits that at one point in the last game, he had actually wanted to kill Reuven.
Reuven is amazed that Danny, with his orthodox Hasidic appearance, speaks such impeccable English. He thinks to himself, "What he [Danny] was saying and the way he was saying it just didn't seem to fit in with the way he was dressed with the side curls on his face and the fringes hanging down below his dark jacket." In truth, Danny has a photographic memory and can easily recall anything he has studied. Danny tells Reuven that he would like to become a psychologist, but will be forced to become a rabbi, following in his father's footsteps.
Reuven asks about Danny's rabbi coach. Danny explains that his own orthodox father had insisted on the presence of the rabbi coach to make certain that the Hasidic Jewish boys did not mix with the "apikorsim" from Reuven's team. When Reuven questions Danny about his father, Danny looks uncomfortable and answers ambiguously. Shortly afterwards, Danny departs, promising to visit again the next day.
Throughout the novel, there are references to the background setting of World War II. In this chapter, both the employees and patients in Reuven's hospital ward are listening to the radio, for the British Air Force has been successfully bombing the enemy coast. When Reuven's father and Mr. Galanter come for a visit, they are also filled with talk of the war. Everyone is rejoicing, for they think that Hitler is finally failing and the fighting may be approaching its end.
Danny pays Reuven a surprise visit in order to apologize to him for hitting him with the ball. Reuven is still so angry at him that he cannot talk; he simply sends him away. The genuine and persistent Danny returns to Reuven's bedside the next day. This time the two boys actually hold a conversation, talking mostly about baseball. Danny even admits that he was so angry at Reuven during the game that he wanted to kill him at one point.
Much is learned about both boys during the chapter. Reuven tells Mr. Savo that he wants to become a rabbi, even though his father does not expect him to be one. Ironically, Danny is expected to become a rabbi, but he would prefer to be a psychologist. Both boys also show their determination. During Danny's first visit, Reuven is determined to hold on to his anger and totally rebuffs Danny. Danny, however, is just as determined to be heard. He returns to the hospital the next day to show the sincerity of his apology to Reuven. This time Reuven actually talks to his visitor. It is obvious that both boys have been influenced by their father. Mr. Malter has taught Reuven to be kind-hearted and forgiving; and Mr. Saunders has taught Danny to do what is right, as reflected in his visits and apologies to Reuven. It is also revealed that Danny is a very intelligent young man with a photographic memory. The reader also learns that Danny does not like talking about his father and answers Reuven's questions about him vaguely and uncomfortably.
Despite the differences in their backgrounds, Danny and Reuven have much in common. They are both Jewish boys of the same age, and both of them have a keen interest in sports. The stage is set for them to become close friends.