The Assistant | Study Guide

Bernard Malamud

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The Assistant | Section 6 : Frank Loses Control | Summary



Frank and Helen's relationship is progressing well, and after an attempt to seduce her proves that Helen does not want to sleep with Frank yet, he is willing to wait. Things change quickly after Frank is caught stealing a dollar from the cash register on his way to meet Helen for a date. Morris has been approached by Julius Karp about marrying Helen to Julius's son Louis, and tells Frank to leave. Frank goes to the park, where he stops Ward Minogue from attacking Helen. However, instead of ensuring she is safe, Frank rapes her.


Things fall apart for Frank due to his own actions and sense of entitlement. Even though he wanted to start giving money back to the store, he had come to see the register as his own bank. His thoughtlessness led to him getting caught stealing just one dollar, a far smaller amount than he had stolen over his time at the store. However, that was all it took for him to betray Morris's trust. Although he and Helen are beginning to make progress toward a healthy relationship, his anger and frustration over being caught stealing and subsequently fired manifest when he rapes her. He is unable to control himself or his sense of entitlement to her body, which he had earlier been able to restrain. This is Frank at his worst; he is unable to control his impulses, and he undoes all the good he had been working so hard to achieve.

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