by Paul Gerhardt
Inspired by Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, I have decided to write a sonnet from the point of view of Reb Saunders, one of the novel’s more mysterious and weathered characters. Saunders’ strained relationship with his son forms one of the story’s important subplots, and is rooted in his own haunted past.
After realizing that his four-year-old son has the mind of a genius, Saunders cries out to God in frustration and confusion. He doesn’t want a prodigy. He wants a boy with a kind heart. He wants a boy who can empathize and express compassion, a boy who can take on the burdens of others while dying to himself. Saunders resolves to raise his son “in silence,” the manner in which he himself was raised. He will engage in no casual conversation with his son. He will force his son to introspectively gaze into his own soul…
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