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The Assistant

Bernard Malamud

Chapter Six, Part One

Chapter Five

Chapter Six, Part One, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Helen decides that she is falling in love with Frank. One night she dreams that her house has burned down and she and her parents have no place to go. This dream makes Helen doubt Frank, but she cannot help but think of him with affection.

The gift of the book has subtly changed their relationship. Whenever she reads Shakespeare, she hears Frank saying the lines. She also starts to see him everywhere. They meet in the library and they walk home together. One night, they stop and kiss in the park. The kiss gives Helen overwhelming happiness, but still a sense of doubt lingers. She worries about Frank not being Jewish and dreads her parents' reaction to the relationship. She decides that if she marries Frank she would help him become somebody and hopefully that they could leave New York and possibly even move to California. Helen also decides to be patient because she does not want to commit to someone who will not lead her to the place where she wants to be. Meanwhile, she and Frank secretly meet in the library, the movies, or a pizzeria.

Frank enjoys spending more time with Helen, but increasingly longs for significant physical contact with her. Frank hints at his physical desires in several ways, but Helen does not respond. Finally, she tells him that she is not going to make love to him until she is really sure that she loves him, possibly not even until they are married.

Several days later during a heavy rainstorm, Helen leaves a note under Frank's door saying that if Tessie and Nick go to the movies, she will come to his room. When Helen finally arrives, Frank thinks that Helen will let him make love to her tonight. They kiss for a while, but when Frank tries to move further Helen makes him stop. For a brief moment Frank pulls Helen back to the bed after she has said no, but then he releases her. Helen explains that although she is not a virgin, she only wants to make love to people that she believes she loves. Frank considers Helen's statement and his near loss of control and decides that he can wait for her.

The next day, Detective Minogue brings a suspect into the grocery. He gets Frank, who is nervous, to tie a bandana around the young man's face. He asks Morris to decide if he was one of the robbers. Morris decides that he was not, because the one who hit Morris was fat and the other had big hands. Detective Minogue then asks Morris if he has seen his son, Ward Minogue around, and asks Frank if he knows Ward. Frank says no. Detective Minogue takes the suspect away and Frank think that it could be him going to jail, even though he is now a changed man.

Later that night, Ward Minogue raps on the door, waking Frank. He asks Frank for money because he wants alcohol. Ward insists that Frank help him rob a liquor store or he will frame Frank or write a letter to Morris and Helen Bober about Frank's role in the crime. Frank gives Ward all his money, eight dollars, and threatens Ward that his father, Detective Minogue, is looking for him and will beat Ward when he finds him. Ward calls Frank a "kike" and falls down the stairs upon leaving.

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