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The Assistant

Bernard Malamud

Chapter Ten

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten, page 2

page 1 of 3

During the week of mourning following the funeral, Ida and Helen stay upstairs, while Frank keeps the business running. Business is bad and Frank uses his other salary to keep the store afloat.

After a week, Frank gives Ida twelve dollars of rent although she has not asked for it. Ida has gotten a job sewing military epaulettes from her house, which brings in some extra money. Frank sees Helen in the hallway and tries to talk to her, but she shuns him. He asks her if she understood the novels she lent him.

Helen dreams that she cannot leave her house because it has become like a prison. Outside under the front streetlight stands Frank, who says, "I love you." Helen promises to scream if he says those words. Upon waking, Helen remembers her father and decides that she must earn her college degree to be worthy of him. Frank leaves Helen alone but observes that she looks lonely when he sees her. One day, he decides that he will somehow manage to get the money to send her to college, although he is not sure how.

To make more money, Frank starts selling hot food at lunchtime. He then learns to make pizza and lasagna, which customers like. Fighting between the Norwegians also helps bring some old customers back. Frank stays open almost all hours to bring in business.

In July, Frank does well. Even the Norwegians start to copy him by making pizza, but their pizza is not so good. Frank starts paying Ida ninety-nine dollars for rent. One night, Frank sits down and tries to figure out how he can pay for Helen to go to college, although given the costs he knows that it is virtually impossible.

One August night, Frank tries to find Helen on one of her evening walks. When he goes outside of the library, she appears. When she sees him, she tries to turn away but he pursues her. He tells her that he wants to pay for her college. She refuses, but he insists that he owes it to her father. When she asks him why she owes her father anything, he explains that he helped Ward rob the store. Her face contorts angrily and she storms away.

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