Exposition: The narrator sets up the scene, telling the readers where Danny and Reuven live (Brooklyn, NY) and what they see around their community. Danny and Reuven live close to each other, but they don't know each other.
Conflict: Reuven's and Danny's yeshivas (Jewish schools) compete against each other in a game of baseball. However, Danny's team turns the baseball diamond into a sort of religious battlefield, setting up the external conflict between the two boys. Later, though, this conflict translates to differences between their religions (Hasidic Judaism vs Orthodox Judaism).
Rising Action: Reuven gets hit in the eye with a baseball during the game, which sends him to the hospital. Danny visits, and the two start to become friends. Danny confides in Reuven that he really doesn't want to become a tzaddik like his father, with whom he rarely speaks.
Danny's Internal Conflict: Throughout the novel, Danny struggles with the concept of becoming the leader of his Hasidic community (the tzaddik). He doesn't want to let the people down or displease his father, but he has no desire to pursue that career. Instead, Danny has a passion for psychology and enjoys reading the world of Sigmund Freud.
Climax: The war ends, and it is revealed that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. The occurrence creates a divide between two groups called Zionists and Anti-Zionists. Danny's and Reuven's fathers take opposing sides, and the two boys stop talking for some time.