Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Reuven goes to Danny's house with some apprehension. When Danny greets him, he also seems hesitant; but they enter the rabbi's study together. Reb Saunders looks old and wizened as he speaks to Reuven about his studies and about growing up to manhood. He then tells Reuven, in Danny's presence, that he knows about his son's future plans.
Danny is shocked at his father's words.
The rabbi turns the conversation to religion. He talks about how man is born with a soul, which needs to be guarded and nurtured at all costs. He then says that he has always worried about Danny's soul, for the boy always seemed to absorb knowledge without feeling, for the sake of his mind rather than his soul.
Reb Saunders describes to Reuven how he had seen the sufferings of the people of Israel, which caused him to weep. Although his own father never spoke to him, he had taught him to look into himself and find strength to handle any of life's problems; he has wanted to do the same thing for Danny. The rabbi admits that for many years his father's silence had bewildered him; then, however, he began to comprehend and appreciate the depth and meaning of the silence. He wishes that Danny could do the same.
Reb Saunders admits that he had deeply worried for his son, who seemed unable to feel the suffering of others. As a result, he rejoiced when Danny became friends with Reuven and Mr. Malter. He feels that their influence has been a blessing to his son. Because of the help of Reuven and his father, he believes that Danny did not become a rebel. He found friends who would listen to his problems and help him work them out.
Reb Saunders finally looks at his son and speaks to him. Danny's eyes are wet with emotion, for he realizes that the chasm between the rabbi and himself has finally closed. After Reb Saunders leaves the room, Danny cries his heart out.
The next day during the morning service Reb Saunders announces to the congregation about his son's decision to become a psychologist rather than a rabbi. No one dares to challenge the decision.
Some days later, Danny visits Reuven's house to bid them farewell. He looks different, for he has shaven his beard and cut his ear locks. He reveals that he now talks to his father regularly, but he now appreciates the earlier silence. He even admits that if he ever has a son, he may rear him in silence.
This last chapter emphasizes the entire religious and social culture of Hasidic Jews, while highlighting the relationship between a father and a son. Throughout the book Danny has been apprehensive about his father's reaction to his becoming a psychologist rather than a rabbi. Now the problem is solved for Danny, for Rabbi Saunders gives his blessing to his son's career choice and announces the decision to his congregation. It is the first time in the novel that Danny has felt really close to his father.
Amazingly, during the course of the novel Danny has begun to understand the deep silences between his father and himself. He tells Reuven that the quietness has nuances and meanings, almost as if the silence were speaking to him. After his father finally breaks the silence and explains he has been worried about the development of Danny's soul, Danny even thinks he may raise his own son in silence, honoring the old Hasidic tradition. He realizes that the silence has given him time to know and find himself.