Study Help Essay Questions


1. Compare the attitudes of Morris, Ida, and Helen toward gentiles.

2. Trace the stages by which Frank changes his attitude toward Jews.

3. Discuss various reasons why Frank begins and continues to steal from Morris.

4. Discuss how Malamud creates the atmosphere of the Bobers' neighborhood and of the store.

5. Compare Louis Karp and Nat Pearl as prospective suitors for Helen. Account for Helen's feeling that she might respond to Nat if he offered marriage.

6. Compare the effects of character and chance on Morris Bober's misfortunes.

7. How does Frank resemble St. Francis?

8. How does Malamud use the Polish woman, Mike Papadopolous, and Carl Johnson to characterize Morris?

9. Compare the sexual attitudes of Helen, Frank, Nat, and Ward.

10. Discuss the images of entrapment throughout the novel.

11. Discuss the use of alter egos (sometimes called psychological doubles) throughout the novel.

12. Discuss the function of Frank's spying on Helen in the bathroom, both early and late in the novel.

13. Compare all the father-son relationships in the novel.

14. Characterize Helen's relations to her mother and father.

15. Why are Ida and Morris so sarcastic with each other?

16. Discuss the reasons for, and trace the course of, Frank's desire to confess the holdup to Morris.

17. What is the function of dreams throughout the novel?

18. Trace the theme of betrayal throughout the novel.

19. Investigate Frank's reasons for becoming a Jew.

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