In a public lecture, Chaim Potok stated that, " Davita's Harp is a confrontation between two fundamentalisms. . . the secular fundamentalism represented by Marxism, Stalinism, and communism, and the religious fundamentalism of the extreme right in my own [Jewish] tradition, and how those two fundamentalisms deeply hurt individuals profoundly committed to them, and what those individuals do in the wake of that pain.
A major theme of Davita's Harp is the manner in which world events intersect with and shape individual lives. So, for example, Michael Chandal's experiences at Centralia change his life course and inspire him to become a Communist; Michael is killed while reporting on the Spanish Civil War, sending his wife and daughter into a tailspin; and Stalin's pact with Hitler ends Anne Chandal and Charles Carter's romance.
Reuven Malter, a character from Potok's first novel, The Chosen, makes an appearance in the book.