The Assistant Literary Qualities

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Malamud sustains a tone of sadness throughout the novel. The critic Mark Shechner, in his essay "Sad Music," observes that this tone characterized the works of Jewish writers in the decade following World War II when the full extent of the Holocaust was realized. The impoverished sons of immigrants living during a worldwide economic depression, they felt that sadness was the only emotion that fitted their era. However, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and other writers moved on to more varied situations for their characters. Not Malamud.

He could not express himself in any other way and The Assistant, his second book, is a dirge that commemorates the inescapable misery of the human condition. He places his characters in a dismal limbo area from which they cannot escape. His minor characters fit their environment precisely. Breitbart, ill and crippled, peddles light bulbs from store to store, dragging himself painfully...

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This section contains 695 words
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