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The Assistant

Bernard Malamud

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Morris Bober

Morris Bober

Morris Bober

Morris Bober

Morris Bober represents the moral center of the novel. Morris is a kind and generous figure who believes that people should treat each other compassionately and not cheat one another. Morris is an ironic hero because while he is the champion of the novel, he does not achieve anything significant or win any great battles. Morris's temperament is governed by quiet resignation to the hand that he has been dealt. It is a hand that is characterized by suffering, due to economic deprivation and the death of a loved son, but Morris accepts it without much complaint. For Morris, suffering is an unfortunate but necessary part of life. Through it, one is able to spiritually transcend the pain and see the meaningful beauty of life. Morris lives these values everyday. Although he is not happy being trapped in an unsuccessful grocery, he thanks God for the presence of Julius Karp because Karp's presence reminds Morris how much more valuable it is to be poor and realized, than rich and foolish.

Morris's behavior is also characterized by his kindness to other people. Morris wants to shovel the snow in front of the shop for the Christians going to church. Morris chases after a customer who leaves change in the store. Morris opens his shop at six am just to sell the Polish woman a three-cent roll. It is Morris's insistence that he always act well to others, in fact, that creates some of his suffering. While other merchants make money by cheating their customers, Morris remains poor but triumphs spiritually because he remains good. Morris may have died a modest man who felt like a failure, but his true success as a human being can be measured in the transformation of Frank Alpine. It is under Morris's influence that Frank turned from being a man of moral degeneration to a good man who has accepted another's burden of suffering out of a commitment to love, compassion, and responsibility. On the level of morals and ethics, Morris succeeds, even if others think that he failed in life.

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