Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278
Alter, Isaka. “The Good Man’s Dilemma: The Natural, The Assistant, and American Materialism.” In Critical Essays on Bernard Malamud, edited by Joel Salzberg. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987. Focuses perceptively on the social criticism in Malamud’s fiction that most critics generally ignore.
Astro, Richard, and Jackson J. Benson, eds. The Fiction of Bernard Malamud. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1977.
Field, Leslie, and Joyce Field, eds. Bernard Malamud: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975.
Freedman, William. “From Bernard Malamud with Discipline and Love (The Assistant and The Natural).” In Bernard Malamud: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Leslie A. Field and Joyce W. Field. Rev. ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975. Analyzes how Frank Alpine, through submitting to the will of Morris Bober and his own conscience, undergoes a spiritual and psychic conversion. Frank is transformed from an “uncircumcised dog” to a “man of stern morality.”
Helterman, Jeffrey. Understanding Bernard Malamud. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1985. A highly readable guide. Chapter 3 discusses the themes, use of language, points of view, structure, and symbolism of The Assistant. The annotated bibliography is especially useful.
Hershinow, Sheldon J. Bernard Malamud. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1980. Offers a comprehensive analysis of The Assistant, discussing the themes of suffering and redemption, how Malamud relates to the American Dream of success, his use of Jewish humor and irony, and the skillful use of language in the novel.
Richman, Sidney. Bernard Malamud. Boston: Twayne, 1966. Chapter 3 provides an excellent, detailed analysis of The Assistant. The author concludes that The Assistant brought to literature a sense of awe for humanity’s capacity to endure and for humanity’s enigmatic powers of creation.
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