Free Study Guide for The Assistant by Bernard Malamud|
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Frank keeps a secret from Morris. He does not tell him that he was one of the robbers.
Frank learns that Morris has a daughter who is twenty-three years old. He finds her to be very attractive. But the woman, Helen Bober, does not pay any attention to him. Frank almost becomes obsessed with her.
Morris returns to work too soon and passes out. He has to stay in bed for two weeks. During this time, Frank takes his place in the store. The store’s income continues to increase. When Morris returns to work, he and Frank develop a father-son relationship. Morris teaches Frank the grocery business. He also teaches him how to be a good person.
Frank and Helen slowly develop a relationship after meeting at the library and walking together.
Frank asks Morris about being Jewish. He wants to know what it means to be Jewish. He wants to understand why Jews seem to suffer so much.
Morris begins to suspect that Frank is stealing from the store.
Helen develops a distorted image of Frank. As she becomes attracted to him, she thinks that he has the qualities that she wants in a man.
One night, Ida spies on Helen and Frank. She reports to Morris that they were kissing. Morris reminds Ida that Frank will be leaving soon. Ida predicts tragedy.
One day, Louis Karp tells Morris that Frank is not the reason that his business has improved. The competition has not been open as long as it formerly was. That same day, Frank puts some money into the cash register to give the impression that business is better than it really is.. Helen calls him and wants to meet him later that night. Frank realizes that he might need some of the money that he already put in the cash register. Morris sees Frank taking some of the money back out of the cash register.
As a result of this and of what Karp said earlier in the day regarding there being another reason for the improvement in business, Morris tells Frank that he does not want him to work in the grocery any longer. When Frank goes to meet Helen in the park as they planned, he sees Ward Minogue attacking Helen. Frank gets Ward off of her, but, then in the emotion of the moment, he himself rapes her.
In one day, it seems that Frank's life falls apart. He has no place
to live. He has no work. And, Helen wants nothing to do with him.
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Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on The Assistant".
. 10 May 2008