The Assistant By Bernard Malamud Character Analysis Ward Minogue

Ward Minogue's first name suggests that to his father he is more of a ward than a son, a person toward whom he feels more duty than love. Ward is the evil genius of both Frank Alpine and of the neighborhood of the Bobers' store. He haunts the neighborhood as if he were an emanation of all its lovelessness and despair. Just as Frank Alpine has a tendency to appear suddenly out of gray and dark places in order to save Morris Bober and his business, so Ward appears out of dark places to propose a robbery, strike down a poor grocer, threaten blackmail, attempt a rape, and smash up a store. Ward's cynicism is due to a complete failure of trust, this failure derived from a loveless and puritanical upbringing. His cynicism assumes that everyone is driven by desires and selfishness like his own.

Ward's anti-Semitism is only one form of his hatred and cynical devaluation of everyone; it is most vivid in his brutality and his rapist tendencies. His physical deterioration and his mindless grasping for the stupor of drink are not only symbols of his moral degradation but are also signs of his disregard for the rules of self-preservation and the possibility of hope. Ward seems suicidal as a result of unconscious despair. His complete lack of hope contrasts sharply with the struggle against despair in Frank, Helen, and Morris.

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