The Assistant | Study Guide

Bernard Malamud

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The Assistant | Section 8 : Frank Leaves | Summary



When Morris is back to work, he insists that Frank leave the store. Frank admits that he was one of the robbers, but Morris already knew. With Frank gone, the store continues to struggle—especially without Frank feeding his own money into the business. Morris tries half-heartedly to sell the business, but the only interested buyer who comes by decides to refuse. Morris is also approached by a man who offers to burn the building down; Morris says no, but later tries to do so himself. In the process, he sets himself on fire and has to be saved by Frank, who arrives just in time.


Despite Frank's having helped Morris, his betrayal means that Morris cannot trust him.. However, the store is in dire shape, with competition from the nearby new grocery store siphoning sales away from the Bobers. It also becomes clear that Frank's money had been keeping the place afloat. The Bobers struggle to woo a buyer, which suggests that they missed their opportunity to get out from under the store. Morris, however, is unwilling to agree to arson in order to collect the insurance money on his building. His moral code is such that, even though he is struggling, he will not commit a crime. When he finally does decide to try, he nearly dies once again. Frank again is there for Morris in his time of need.

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