ABSTRACT

This article investigates the scholarly treatment of the place and function of Holocaust in Chaim Potok’s novels The Chosen and The Promise. Tracing a reception history of Potok’s work in the academy, this article argues that previous studies of Potok’s novels have relegated the Holocaust to a background historical event that informs the internal religious and ideological conflicts of the novels. Reading the two novels together, this article argues that the novels, through the characters of Danny and Reuven, explore a variety of ideological positions that each demand particular action in response to the Holocaust. The Promise, I argue, sees Reuven discern another possibility, one that engages with the ostensible incomprehensibility of the Holocaust as a generative force for sympathetic engagement with irreconcilable ideological positions, offering a new model for Jewish continuity in his post-Holocaust United States.

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