Free Study Guide for The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Free BookNotes|
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THE CONTENDER - FREE CHAPTER NOTES / BOOK SUMMARY
When Alfred is running in the park, the
police stop him and question him about his intentions. When Alfred tells him why
he is jogging, they wish him the best. After he returns home, Aunt Pearl also
questions him about where he has been. He hints that he has been out preparing
to become someone special. When Alfred goes to work at the Epsteins, they question
him about James and the attempted robbery. Alfred pretends ignorance about the
whole affair, and the Epsteins warn him against his friendship with James. The
conversation upsets him, for he thinks that his employers doubt his integrity.
As a result, he does his work with distraction. After work, he runs into Henry,
who has learned that Alfred has met with Donatelli. He wants to know when Alfred
will start training at the gym.
This chapter reveals
that people question Alfred’s intention because of his youth and his color. While
he is jogging in the park, he is stopped and questioned by the police. When he
returns home, Aunt Pearl suspiciously questions what he has been doing away from
home so early in the morning. When he goes to work, the Epsteins question him
about the attempted robbery and his friendship with James. It is not surprising
that his mood droops to a low level and that he works without interest. Even when
Henry asks Alfred about starting his training in the gym, he can muster no enthusiasm.
His negative day has caused him to question whether he can realize his dreams.
When Alfred goes to the gym, he is bothered by the noise and activity. He feels out of place, for everyone is so engrossed in their work that they pay him no attention. He has second thoughts about coming to gym. As he wanders around aimlessly, he meets Dr. Corey, a dentist and is impressed with his hearty manner. The interaction encourages him to try some exercises himself. A student offers to help him with push-ups. Just as he finishes, Alfred observes Henry entering the gym with Bud, the assistant manager. At Donatelli’s suggestion, Bud asks Alfred to come to a boxing match that is to be held at Madison Square Gardens. Alfred is surprised and pleased at the invitation.
When Alfred goes to the gym, he feels like an outsider who
does not belong. He is bothered by the noise and the fact that no one pays him
any attention. After talking with Dr. Corey, he feels encouraged and attempts
some exercises of his own. He is even more encouraged when he meets Bud, the assistant
manager, who invites Alfred to come to a boxing match at Madison Square Gardens.
Alfred goes to Madison Square Gardens with Henry and Jelly Belly. He is amazed to see the crowd that fills the hall and stares in wonder at the lighted ring, encircled by a velvet rope. As Alfred talks to Henry and Jelly Belly, Donatelli, Dr. Corey, and Bud arrive with Willie Streeter, the boxer who is to fight. When the referee introduces Willie and his opponent, Julius Becker, the crowd cheers.
The boxing match begins and gathers speed. In the third round, both fighters are injured. Willie is hurt so badly that he loses his will to fight. Donatelli stops the match and leads Willie to the dressing room. When Willie complains about Donatelli stopping the fight, Bud becomes upset and defends Donatelli’s action as correct. He tells Willie that he behaved like a coward in the ring and made a fool of himself before the crowd.
Back at the gym, Alfred meets Wither Spoon, a former heavy
weight champion, turned teacher. Spoon’s refinement greatly impresses Alfred.
As he walks home, Alfred thinks about day’s events, especially about his meeting
Spoon. Suddenly, he hears approaching footsteps and comes face to face with Major.
After starting on a low note, Alfred’s day improves until he comes face to face with Major. After being unfairly questioned by a variety of people and working at his job without excitement, Alfred is not in a very good mood. He carries the troubles of his day into the gym. He is bothered by the noise and the fact that no one pays him any attention. When he talks with Dr. Corey, things begin to improve. Alfred feels encouraged enough to try some exercises, which he completes successfully. He then meets Bud, the assistant manager of the gym, and is impressed by his practical sense and discipline. Alfred then becomes really excited when Bud asks him to come to the boxing match at Madison Square Gardens.
Alfred is amazed to see the crowd inside the arena and he looks in wonder at the ring. When Willie Streeter (from Donatelli’s Gym) and Julius Becker are introduced as the boxers, Alfred cheers with the rest of the crowd. He then stares in amazement at the ferocity of the fighters and begins to understand the risk involved in boxing. When both boxers are injured in the third round, he sees Willie losing interest and courage. Donatelli finally stops the fight and leads Willie away.
Alfred now sees Donatelli in a new light. Although he is a dedicated trainer and a strict disciplinarian, he also has a tender heart and cares about his fighters as human beings, trying to protect them. When Willie complains about Donatelli stopping the fight, Bud intervenes and says that Donatelli has done the right thing. Willie was fighting so poorly, he was certain to have been seriously hurt, which Donatelli wanted to prevent. Bud scolds Willie for his loss of courage and fight.
Alfred has fully enjoyed being at Madison
Square Gardens and watching the boxing match; but his day improves further when
he meets Wither Spoon, a past champion. When Spoon retired from the ring, he finished
his education and became a teacher. He is now a happily married man living a contented
life in Manhattan. As Alfred walks towards home, he thinks about the good things
that have happened during his day and subconsciously decides he wants to be like
Spoon. In the midst of his positive thoughts, Alfred ironically comes face to
face with his enemy, Major.
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The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Free BookNotes Summary Study Guide