The Assistant Setting

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Bober's grocery, where most of the action takes place, is in a section of the city (possibly Brooklyn though never specified) that is almost a slum. The story occurs in a two-year span during which nothing happens to improve the lot of the Bobers except slight increases in business after Frank Alpine, the assistant the title refers to, allies himself with the family and becomes a clerk in Bober's store. A bleak grayness characterizes the atmosphere of the book. The grocery is a prison in which Bober spends his exemplary life and to which Frank Alpine will later commit himself. Bober's sense of morality makes escape from his dingy prison impossible.

The time of the novel, like its locale, is never specified. Trolleys are still operating in this city, and supermarkets have cut into Bober's business, which seems to indicate that Malamud is depicting the period sometime between the...

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This section contains 233 words
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