While Morris begins to instruct Frank in this chapter, it is clear that Frank is far from understanding Morris's perspective. Already, Frank has grown edgy in the grocery as he watches people suffer in the prison-like environment of the ghetto. He criticizes Al Marcus and Breitbart for their meager existences, but as Morris explains Frank entirely misreads the situation. While Frank thinks that Marcus is weak, Marcus is actually incredibly strong, insisting on working day after day despite the fact that he has terminal cancer. Furthermore, while Breitbart appears grim, he managed to pick himself up after being left in financial and emotional ruin by his business partner and wife. The unwillingness of these men to give up in the face of hardship should be emulated in Morris's ethnical system. Although Morris explains these values to Frank, Frank still is unable to truly understand.

By constantly showing the reader Frank's internal thoughts, Malamud continues to dramatize Frank's painful struggle to be a good person. Frank still entertain thoughts of being a purely good character, but his actions contradict his desires. Frank keeps stealing. Although Frank decides to confess his role in the robbery, he does not. His failure to do so is not truly surprising. Frank long has demonstrated his good intentions, but never followed through upon them with his actions. His learned behaviors restrict his abilities to be the person that he wants to be. Eventually Frank's behaviors will have to change if he wants to reach his ideal, but he is far from such a change in this first chapter of moral instruction.

Frank also starts to pursue Helen with increased fervor. Their relationship begins in the library, which seems an appropriate setting. Its appropriateness comes not simply because of Helen's interest in learning, but because the two will initially only be able to see themselves like two-dimensional images on a page, without full depth of character. Their tendencies to cling to certain preconceived notions become clear as they walk home together. Helen first has negative opinions of Frank because he is a gentile and her mother has always drilled into her head the idea that all gentiles possess a form of evil. Furthermore, she assumes that he lacks intelligence showing that she is an intellectual snob. When she sees him at the library, she assumes that he is reading Popular Mechanics, but actually he is reading a biography of Napoleon. Her misconceptions fall apart as they walk, because Frank describes his desire to go to college and tells her a story about Saint Francis of Assisi. The story of Saint Francis is, in itself, important and actually neither Frank nor Helen truly understands it. In the story, Saint Francis laments his desire to have a wife and children because he is a monk, therefore he shapes a family out of snow and feels better. What this story truly testifies to is Saint Francis's ability to supplant his physical earthy desire for lust and love with a pure love for God and his natural creatures. Frank likes this story, but is very far from understanding what a pure form of love is. Frank is trapped in his physical sexual desires, although he thinks that he is not. For Helen, the story suggests a level of intelligence and literacy that Frank does not truly have. Helen, the dreamer that she is, begins to spin fantasies about his ability to intellectually overcome the world. At this point in the novel, both Frank and Helen are trapped in their preconceived notions of the other and although they have a yearning to love, they both cannot because of limitations in their characters.