1. “Remember why and for whom we play.” (p. 16)
This passage shows the rabbi of Reuvens rival team telling his players to focus
and concentrate on the importance of the baseball game they are about to play.
They are playing for the glory of their God and not to just have fun. To these
young teenage boys their religion has importance in all aspects of their life
even their after school recreational activities.
2. The first pitch was low, and Danny Saunders ignored it. The second one
started to come in shoulder-high, and before it was two thirds of the way to the
plate, I was standing on second base. (p. 30)
This seemingly irrelevant scene in the book is actually very important because it
shows how Reuven controls his own destiny. Anticipating what is going to
happen based on previous experience is crucial, not just in baseball but also in
life. Reuven was the only one on his team that reacted like this and it shows
his leadership abilities in key situations.
3. “Enjoy your meal,” she said smiling.
“Thank you very much,” I said. I had been concerned about eating. (p. 44)
As soon as Reuven regained consciousness in the hospital his main concern was
remaining kosher according to his religion. His natural instinct of hunger was
put after the desire to obey his Jewish beliefs. This shows what a key factor
Reuvens religion is to him in all aspects of life.
4. “Its not all right,” I said “I want you to tell me.”
“There is nothing to tell you. They told me it was all right.”
“Abba, please tell me whats the matter.” (p. 48)
This passage explains the close connection between Reuven and his father. The
boy can tell when his father is not being completely honest with him and
Reuven longs to know what is going to happen to his eye. In his time of pain
and concern Reuven knows that he can confide in his “Abba” for help and
5. Also, yesterday I had hated him; now we were calling each other by our first
names. (p. 68)
Reuven explains in this passage the change in emotions he felt towards Danny. The previous day Reuven deeply hated Danny but now they began to spend time together and grow as friends. It is also ironic that these two boys would probably never get to know each other if it was not for Reuvens injury.
6. “What would have happened if you had lost?”
“I dont like to think about that. You dont know my father.”
“So you practically had to beat us.” (p. 71)
Here Danny tells Reuven that to the Hasidic softball team it was more than a
game; it was an expression of Hasidic dominance. Dannys father, the Hasidic
rabbi in the area formed the team for the sole purpose of glorifying his religion
and failure was not an option for Danny and his team.
7. “I read a lot,” he said. “I read about seven or eight books a week outside of my
school work.” (p. 79)
Danny is telling Reuven about himself and his studying habits. Danny is an
extremely intelligent person who reads on his own for the sole purpose of
possessing that extra knowledge. This impresses Reuven who is also on a quest
for knowledge and he only reads three or four books a week.
8. I suddenly realized it was my father who all along had been suggesting books
for Danny to read. My father was the man Danny had been meeting in the
Reuven is surprised to find out that his “enemy” was actually a friend of his
father for almost two months before the two boys met on the baseball field. In
this complicated friendship the two boys are just getting to know each other
while the father has been guiding each of them individually for quite some
time. Only through a baseball injury are these people all brought together.
9. I had lived init all my life, but I never really saw it until I went through it that
Friday afternoon. (p.94)
Reuven now values the things he once took for granted; even an insignificant
plant outside his house is exciting to him. It is not until something is taken away
from Reuven that he notices the importance of it.
10. I felt I had crossed into another world, that pieces of my old self had been left
behind on the black asphalt floor of the school yard alongside the shattered lens
of my glasses. (p. 96)
Along with the physical change of the temporary loss of eyesight Reuven has also
gone through a mental transformation while in the hospital. His old passive
lifestyle changed once he realized that at any moment it could all be over. Being
injured was a tremendous growing experience and without being in this accident
Reuven would not have matured as much as he did.
11. There was color now in my fathers face and his cough had disappeared. (p. 97)
Reuvens injury was a traumatic experience for both father and son. Mr. Malter
was pale and sick during Reuvens struggle in the hospital and this shows how
much he cared for his son. With Mrs. Malter gone Reuven is the only true friend
he has and both father and son need each other.
12 Reb Saunders son is a terribly torn and lonely boy. There is literally no one in
the World he can talk to. He needs a friend. The accident with the baseball has
bound Him to you.” (p. 106)
Mr. Malter makes it clear to Reuven just how important it is to be friends with
Danny Saunders. Although very gifted and educated Danny struggles daily with
the loneliness of having no one to confide in. what seemed like a terrible event at
the baseball field was a blessing in disguise that will bring these two boys who
need each other, together.
13. Danny was probably going to have as much trouble with his friends over our
relationship as I would have with mine. (p. 118)
Reuven and Danny are from two different social groups with dissimilar
qualities that make it difficult for the two boys to be friends. It is a classic
problem in literature; for example: Romeo and Juliet. The main difference in
Danny and Reuvens friendship from Romeo and Juliets relationship is that the
two boys do not try to hide their friendship.
14. He glanced at me, his face a mixture of surprise and relief, and I realized
that I, too, had passed some kind of test.” (p. 134)
Reuven has just been quizzed by Reb Saunders and he answered the question
correctly. This is a big step in Reuven and Dannys friendship because it shows
Mr. Saunders that Reuven is an acceptable friend. Both parents now approve of
the friendship between their sons even though the fathers do not always agree and
this also shows the maturity and understanding of the men.
15. I decided after a while to review by heart some of the symbolic logic I had been
This passage shows how the two friends, Danny and Reuven, push each other to
further their knowledge. When Reuven sees Danny reading a book it makes him
want to do something for himself that will make him smarter. It is an undeclared
competition between the boys to see who is more dedicated to their education.
16. Reb Saunders was far happier when he lost to Danny than when he won.
In the religious quizzing that took place between Reb Saunders and his son the
father took pride in seeing his son succeed even if it meant that Mr. Saunders was
proved wrong lost. Mr. Saunders taught Danny most of what he knows and
seeing this knowledge Transfer from generation to generation makes Reb happy.
He knows that through these friendly games between father and son Danny will
learn what his father knows and eventually take his place.
17. My fathers eyes were misty when we left the office. (p. 162)
Reuven was just told that his eye was fine and that he could do all the things
he used to do including reading. This was extremely relieving to his father; Mr.
Malter continually worried about Reuven while he was in the hospital and even
when he got out because of his eye. Everything was physically back to normal
with Reuven and this brought his father to tears.
18. I bent and blew hard against the web. It swayed, but remained intact. I
Blew again, harder now, and the strands seemed to suddenly melt. (p. 165)
Reuven was sitting on his porch moments after hearing the bad news of Billys
unsuccessful surgery and he felt helpless, just like the horsefly stuck in the
spiders web. Reuven wanted to do something good so he destroyed the web
that the fly was stuck in and this allowed it to escape. What Reuven did not
realize was the fact that by releasing the fly and tearing down the web he might
have killed the spider that needed the fly to survive. It is ironic that Reuvens
attempt at a good deed might have been hurtful.
19. I joined him there every afternoon, and frequently my father came with me.
Danny and Reuvens friendship has grown and they both rely on each other for
help and companionship. Now that it is summer they meet every day in the
library to do their reading together. Reuvens father also acts as a mentor to
Danny who has no father figure who he can turn to for help with his studying.
20. Miserable, he said. Had I ever sat in a bus with my father for hours and not
exchanged a single word of conversation, except for a short discussion about
a passage of Talmud? No.
Danny has no one he can talk to for advice and his father is more of a school
teacher than a loving mentor that the fifteen year old boy needs. Mr.
Saunders method of teaching Danny what he needs to know later in life
is making him a smart person but Danny does not want to inherit his fathers
Hasidic leadership because he does not want to be like his father. With no one
to learn from Danny turns to books by Freud and this may influence his way
of thinking and further upset his father.
21. I saw only emptiness and fear and a kind of sudden, total end to the things that
I had never experienced before. (p. 179)
Theodore Roosevelt, president of the United States, has just died and it has filled
Reuven with immense grief. He does not fully understand why he is sad but only knows that a great man has died. Along with Judaism Reuvens home country is very important to him and Roosevelts death is very upsetting to Reuven. The president was probably a role model to Reuven especially now that he is becoming interested in politics and other leadership roles.
22. “How the world drinks our blood,” Reb Saunders said. “How the world makes
makes us suffer. It is the will of God. We must accept the will of God.” (p. 181)
Reb Saunders is personally hurt by the horrible massacre of six million Jews in the Nazis concentration camps. These people were Rebs followers, and some even his friends. The genocide of this many people has affected the entire world and the remaining Jews including Reuven and Dannys father are very disturbed by these events.
23. “I was really concerned about his health because all along Ive wanted him to be able to take my fathers place.” (p.190)
Through reading Freud Danny has figured out that he does not want to take his fathers place as a tzaddik. Danny feels that deep in his subconscious he wants his little brother to take his place and that is why he has always been concerned with his health; not because he cares for him, but for selfish reasons. Danny has found his way out of being a rabbi and this gives him hope for his future.
24. “Ill want you around on that day, friend. Ill need you around on that day.”
Danny knows that he does not want to take his fathers place and become a rabbi but the hardest part will be telling his father this. Danny seeks comfort in Reuven and asks for his help in confronting his father; both boys are greatly intimidated by the powerful Reb Saunders. During a time when both boys fathers are not there to help them they confide in each other for strength.
25. ” I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man that lives that span, he is something.” (p. 204)
Mr. Malter is teaching Reuven an important lesson about controlling his own destiny. Not only should Reuven not stand idle and do something with the gift of life that was given to him but he should also try to impress this idea on others. This is the key factor in Mr. Malters way of thinking and the main reason why he puts himself through the torture of teaching and helping others before he even takes care of himself.
26. Danny was not to see me, talk to me, listen to me, be found within four feet of
me. My father and I had been excommunicated from the Saunders family.
Reuven and Dannys friendship seems to have come to an end. Reb Saunders will not allow his son to be with Reuven because of their Zionists views. Mr. Saunders thinks that Reuven will influence Danny in a negative way and as punishment for remaining friends Danny has been threatened with being sent to an out of town yeshiva where he will only be able to study to be a rabbi. What the two boys struggled through, not caring what others thought of them, seems impossible now with Mr. Saunders unyielding views toward the Zionist beliefs of the Malter family.
27. And now it was also I and not only Reb Saunders who was able to listen to
Dannys voice only through a Talmudic disputation. (p. 225)
Now that Reuven is not allowed to talk with Danny it is only during the
Talmudic sessions in class that Reuven gets to hear his voice. Reuven
points out that this is the same relationship between Mr. Saunders and his
son and that they only talk to each other while discussing Talmud. A sad
fact because now Danny has no one to talk to and he goes through his days
28. I worked carefully and methodically, using everything my father taught me
And a lot of things I was now able to teach myself. (p. 229)
Dannys father has done an exceptional job in raising his son and this is most
evident when the father cannot be there. The main job of a parent is to work
themselves out of a job and now that Mr. Malter has had a heart attack Reuven
must take care and teach himself and he does a wonderful job of it, impressing
his teacher and classmates. Reuven really misses his father but it is a testament
to the hard work of Mr. Malter that his son can now succeed on his own.
29. He had worked so hard for a Jewish state, and that very work now kept him from
seeing it. (p. 240)
Ever since news came of the slaughter of six million Jews during WWII it has been Mr. Malters personal mission to make it possible for his people to have a country of their own, a Jewish state. He rarely slept and this greatly worsened his health and probably was the reason for his second heart attack. Now with the struggle of recuperating from the heart attack he is not strong enough to make a trip to Palestine and see the place for which he worked so hard to make a reality.
30. Reb Saunders anti-Zionist league died that day as far as the students in Hirsch
Collage were concerned. It remained alive outside of school, but I never again
saw an anti-Zionist leaflet inside the school building. (p. 241)
With the death of a graduate from Hirsch Collage as a result of the fighting in Palestine the students and faculty of that school now have a close connection with the fighting for a Jewish homeland. Anti-Zionists who once had a stronghold on some students are now nowhere to be seen in the school for fear of retaliation from people who knew the student well. It took the death of another Jew to give the Zionists and the anti-Zionists of the school a reason to stop the conflicts between people of the same religion.
31. I felt a little shiver hearing his voice…
“The ban has been lifted.” He said simply. (p. 243)
Mr. Saunders will now allow his son to see Reuven. The two friends
never wanted to be apart and it was a trying time for their friendship. This
was the first time the two had spoken to each other in months and the meeting
was filled with relief and joy.
32. He had expected it, he said. The Jewish state was not an issue anymore but a
fact. How long would Reb Saunders have continued his band over a dead issue? (p. 244)
Mr. Malter is talking to Reuven about the two boys now being allowed to be friends again. He is happy but not surprised because the differences in religious beliefs that first separated the families is a non-existent conflict anymore. Mr. Malters desire to have a Jewish state has now become a reality and there is nothing Reb Saunders can do about it so he maturely admits his “defeat” and allows the two boys to be friends again.
33. Danny called me during supper as soon as the ambulance pulled away from in
front of his house, and I could tell from his voice that he was in panic. (p. 251)
Levi Saunders, Dannys little brother, is very ill and must be rushed to the hospital. This is extremely important to Danny because he is counting on his brother to take over the role of heir to the tzaddik throne once Danny tells his father that he is not going to be a rabbi. To Danny this is much more important than even losing a family member and Reuven understands this when Danny calls.
34. “You will go on Passover. He has a reason if he asked you to come especially
on Passover. And listen next time when someone speaks to you, Reuven.”
Mr. Malter is scolding Reuven for not paying attention to Mr. Saunders indirect invitation to talk about Danny. Reuven is still angry with Reb Saunders and he did not want to spend his Shabbat talking to him about Talmud but he failed to realize that Mr. Saunders wanted to talk to Reuven about his son. What Mr. Malter is actually telling Reuven is that when someone says something he should not always take it as literally as it sounds. He also wants Reuven to forget about the past with Mr. Saunders and give him another chance.
35. “My father himself never talked to me, except when we studied together. He
taught me with silence.” (p. 265)
Danny Saunders grandfather also taught Reb Saunders with silence. This tradition was passed down from generation to generation but Danny rebels against it and decides that this type of future is not for him. In a very emotional discussion father and son discuss Dannys future as a psychologist and not a tzaddik.
36. “But he learned to find the answers for himself. He suffered and learned to
listen to the suffering of others. In the silence between us he began to hear
the world crying.” (p. 267)
Reb Saunders finally tells Danny the reason why they do not talk to
each other; he wanted Danny to hear the suffering of the world through
the silence between father and son. This is the Saunders family way of teaching a boy to grow up and become a tzaddik, silence. It is ironic how Reb Saunders stressed the importance of silence for Dannys personal growth toward becoming a leader but it is partly because of the silence between him and his father that he does not want to become a tzaddik at all.