I need help with Malamud quote Can anyone please explain to me what Malamud means by his quote, “Form [is] ultimate necessity as the basis of literature,”? I want to analyze "The Assistant" by Malamud and I want to use his quote to explain how he creates the novel’s central meaning. My final is tomorrow and I need help to be able to analyze the novel.

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Malamud is rejecting the pretensions of post-modernists who seek to completely explode the form of the short story in order to gain what they regard as more freedom for self-expression. He's not rejecting the idea of experimenting with forms, but suggesting that some adherence to form is essential if a writer is writing to convey ideas. Elsewhere in the passage, he says that "I'm for freedom of thought, but one must recognize that it doesn't necessarily lead to art." I have not read The Assistant, and therefore can't comment on its relationship to this quote, but that is what the quote means.

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Form refers to the structural and organizational elements of a work of fiction.

Malamud may be suggesting that literature is a way of organizing our experience into a coherent and meaningful narrative. Anyway, this is one inference we can draw from his statement.

Here are two ideas for looking at form:

Assess the story in terms of parts. Identify a theme developed in each section or part of the book and analyze the relationship of the parts of the story. The questions you will be asking here are: What theme is presented as the novel's central problem in the first section? How does the beginning of the book relate to the middle and to the end?

Look at the WHO and the WHERE of his characters. In Malamud's work, characters are sometimes representative of a single idea - innocent suffering, political indifference, etc. - and the placement of the characters in the story corresponds to the development of the work's central ideas. A brief chart could help you with this analysis, asking: What idea defines each character? How do these ideas relate to the action of the story? How do these ideas fit with the theme of the section in which the character appears?



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