Essay, Research Paper: Assistant By Malamuds


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Throughout Bernard Malamuds, beautifully written, The Assistant there were
references to cultural icons or to religious symbols that sometimes represent
The writers major theme. In this book it is Franks constant resemblance to St.
Francis Of Assisi, and Franks subtle conversion to Judaism. The most important
religious symbol in the book is St. Francis. Frank Alpine's name two important
connotations: It suggests an affinity with St. Francis of Assisi and also refers
to mountain heights beyond the Timberline. Frank has vivid memories of learning
about St. Francis. His desires to be like St. Francis emphasizes only one half
of his divided character, because he is both a saint and a sinner in a way.
Which gives him an alter ego in the novel. Ward Minogue is Franks devil and his
angels are Morris and Helen. Frank doesn’t practice religion like a dedicated
man, he is catholic because he came up that way, but at the end of the novel
there is a strange twist because he gets circumcised! And becomes a Jew. He
suddenly converted religions. This reminds me of Homers epic poem The Odyssey
because like Odysseus Frank changes to try to become a better person also like
St. Francis of Assisi. This is a touching story but there is still some humor in
it. The main reason for him to convert was so that Helen could accept him, but
he also wants to acknowledge that he is no different from Jews, and that he is
willing to live among them even if Helen doesn’t want to. This is the reason
it is humorous because he finds out that he can be a Jew because he shares a
fundamental humanity with them. According to Morris he was becoming a Jew long
before his official conversion. St. Francis of Assisi has something to do with
Frank’s conversion but it is of very little importance. Frank experiences
change through suffering almost like a human saint. This can also go for the
Jews who suffered for many things. St. Francis is also an important factor
because even his name compares: Frank-Francis and Alpine-Assisi. It is like they
are both coming from the same place or growing out of the same branch in a
twisted, eerie like way. This is also a sign of good writing because it is the
author that gives us these feelings. I believe that frank is a figure of a saint
going through certain changes that make him more of a better person. Franks
subtle conversion to Judaism was fortified by the good writing of Malamud. He
did it on the last page and on the last line even though there was some
foreshadowing. He leaves us in suspense. The circumcision and such gave it away
in a nice mood.
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