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The Assistant

Bernard Malamud

Chapter Seven

Chapter Six, Part two

Chapter Seven, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Morris feels unhappy the morning after the incident with Frank. Frank left his fifteen dollars pay in the grocery. When Ida comes to relieve Morris at midday, he tells her that their good business was due to Schmitz's illness. He also explains that the Norwegians will be coming and that he asked Frank to leave. Ida feels elated that Frank is going. She sends Morris upstairs to nap. When he gets upstairs, Morris turns on the radiator, but cannot find a match to light it. He naps and dreams that the Norwegians, speaking German, take over his store and then he and Frank start wrestling with each other on the floor while Helen screams.

Frank Alpine wakes feeling pained about what he did the night before. He remembers that he had left the park briefly before Helen came in order to grab some pizza. When he returned, he saw Ward attacking her. Frank saved Helen, but then felt overcome by his love for her and his fear that he would not see her again given his recent fight with her father. He felt that he needed to make love to her so he had.

Helen wakes traumatized and takes her third shower since the night before. Her dress and coat are ripped and she decides to get the latter sewn while she is at work. She feels dirty and disgusting and leaves early for work.

When Nick Fuso gets home from work, he smells gas in the hallway. Nick gets Frank, and the two rush into Morris's apartment. The gas from the unlit radiator has flooded the apartment. Frank pulls Morris out of bed, while Nick opens all the windows. Helen and Ida appear and start screaming, Helen screaming partially because Frank is there. After the situation calms, everyone leaves the Bobers. Frank runs the store for the rest of the day until Ida makes him stop. That night an ambulance brings Morris to the hospital because of a high fever.

The next morning, Frank runs the store all day even though Helen and Ida do not know since they are at the hospital. The day after, the Norwegians open their market and Frank works at the store. Ida comes downstairs and is surprised, and slightly angry, to find Frank there. After Frank shows her forty-one dollars that he earned the day before, she feels less resentful. Ida does not know why Morris had asked Frank to leave, believing that it was about Helen as Frank suggests. Ida lets Frank stay, although tells him directly that Helen is not for him.

The store is slow all week after the Norwegians open their grocery. By Saturday, the store has earned roughly one hundred dollars less than usual. Frank takes twenty-five dollars out of his personal savings account and adds it to the store total so that the losses do not seem so poor.

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