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The Assistant | Study Guide

Bernard Malamud

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The Assistant | Section 4 : Frank and Helen | Summary



Once Morris is back to work, he and Frank bond as they run the store together. Frank is still haunted by his role in the robbery and is eager to atone for what he did. He wants to explain it to Morris and Helen, but he never does. All the while, his attraction to Helen is growing. They have a chance to talk to each other in the local library, where they meet by accident. After they get home to the store, Helen thinks about him as well.


This section is focused on false bonding. While Frank and Morris are becoming closer, that closeness is predicated on Frank not telling Morris that he was one of the robbers, an omission Frank himself recognizes as threatening this growing friendship. Frank's nascent relationship with Helen is also built on falsehood; while Frank has been watching her in secret, Helen is considering the ways in which Frank could change. They are both falling in love less with an actual person and more with an idea of that person, which is not a strong foundation for their connection.

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