Free Study Guide for The Assistant by Bernard Malamud|
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Ida Bober is the wife of Morris and the mother of Helen. She frequently works in the store, relieving Morris through some of the long hours that the store is open. She wants Morris to sell the store. She worries that Helen might become interested in a man, like Frank, who is not Jewish.
Ephraim Bober was the son of Morris and Ida Bober. He died years ago as a child, but he lives on in the thoughts and memories of his father.
Note: Morris and Frank develop a relationship not unlike that
of a father and son. The following six minor characters are three father-son
Julius Karp is the father of Louis Karp. He owns a liquor store that is located next to Morris' grocery store. He has prospered financially more than Morris has. Like Morris, he is an immigrant.
Louis Karp, the son of Julius, works in his father's store. He is lazy.
Sam Pearl is the father of Nat Pearl. He is married to Goldie Pearl and is also the father of Betsy Pearl. Like Morris Bober and Julius Karp, he is an immigrant. He owns a shop on the same block as Morris and Julius.
Nat Pearl, the son of Sam and Goldie Pearl, is a law student. He has a history with Helen Bober.
Detective Minogue is the father of Ward Minogue. The father and son have an extremely rocky relationship.
Ward Minogue is the son of Detective Minogue. He is a criminal. He was with Frank Alpine when Frank robbed Morris. In fact, the robbery was Ward's idea.
Goldie Pearl is the wife of Sam Pearl and the mother of Nat and Betsy.
Betsy Pearl is the daughter of Sam and Goldie Pearl and the sister of Nat Pearl. She is Helen Bober's friend. She would like to see Helen become close to her brother again.
Nick and Tessie Fuso
Nick and Tessie rent from the Bobers. Later in the story, Frank Alpine rents a room from them. Nick is a mechanic. They are Italian, like Frank is, which gives them something in common with him.
Schmitz is only a neighborhood presence, not an actual character in the story. He is a grocer who opens a grocery store in the neighborhood and takes business away from Morris Bober's store.
Taast and Pederson
Two Norwegian brothers who operate a grocery in the same space that, earlier, Schmitz operated his store. Like Schmitz, they are only a neighborhood presence, not actual characters in the story. Later in the story, Taast operates the store without his brother.
The following characters are minor. They wander into the story and then
Breitbart is a light bulb salesman who has a son.
Al Marcus is a paper bag salesman. He has cancer, but does not want to stop working.
Charlie Sobeloff was once Morris's business partner.
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Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on The Assistant".
. 10 May 2008