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Free Study Guide for The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Free BookNotes

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Major and Hollis waylay Alfred and threaten to harm him. Alfred is scared but puts on a brave front. When Major asks him to help them rob the Epsteins the following Friday, Alfred refuses to co-operate. Major then asks Alfred to loosen the wires of the burglar alarm so the burglary will go undetected. When Alfred turns down this second request, Major threatens him with a knife. Alfred, however, remains unmoved. Although Major feels temporarily defeated, he asks Alfred to reconsider his proposal and answer him by Thursday. Alfred ignores his appeal and walks into his house.


In this chapter, Alfred proves that he is undergoing a transformation. In the beginning of the novel, Alfred lacked self-confidence and succumbed to the taunts of Major. Now, however, Alfred stands up to his enemy by refusing to be bullied into robbing the Epsteins or disarming their alarm system. It is clear that his experiences at the gym have already made him more confident in his abilities and more certain of what he wants in life. Major is shocked at Alfredís new boldness. By standing up to Major, Alfred taken a giant step in establishing his identity as an individual.



As Alfred jogs in the park, the policemen recognize him and comment on his improved looks. The compliment makes Alfred feel happy, and he keeps running even though he experiences pain in his side at times. When he returns home, he is feeling so confident that he tells his aunt and cousins that he is going to become a champion boxer. At first Aunt Pearl thinks he is joking, but when Alfred tells her about his training under Donatelli, she believes him. She then becomes concerned that Alfred will get hurt.

In the following weeks, Alfred works hard at the gym, following the strict regimen of exercise and diet set by Donatelli. Although the first few weeks of training are exhausting for him, he builds up his strength, and each day because easier to bear.

He notices that his muscles are developing and becoming more flexible. By the sixth week at the gym, Alfred is impatient to test his boxing strength against an opponent. Donatelli, however, believes he needs more practice.

Alfred keeps thinking about James and longs for his company. One day Major invites him to a party that James will be attending. In his desire to see James, he accepts Majorís invitation. After working out at the gym, Alfred heads for the party.


Chapter 9 lightens the serious mood of the novel. Alfred, who is usually reserved and contemplative, appears cheerful. He runs eagerly in the park, works hard at the gym, and is pleased that his muscles are developing. When the policemen compliment him on his improved appearance, Alfred is delighted. He feels so confident about his progress that he tells Aunt Pearl and his cousins that he going to be a champion boxer. With a mischievous glint in this eye, he indulges in theatrics and jokes with his cousins about his boxing ability. The girls giggle at Alfredís comical antics as they eat their breakfast cereal

It is clear that Alfred has the will power and determination to achieve his goal. He rigidly follows Donatelliís strict regimen, patiently tolerates the pain and discomfort he experiences in the first few weeks of training, and keeps pushing himself harder. At the end of six weeks in the gym, he feels fit to face a boxing opponent; however, Donatelli says he needs more practice.

Chapter 10 ends on a note of suspense. Alfred often thinks about James and misses his company; therefore, when Major invites him to a party that James will be attending, Alfred does not want to pass up the opportunity to see his friend. At the end of the chapter, it is Friday night, and Alfred is headed to the party. The reader worries that he has made the wrong decision in choosing to go. Since Major has been nothing but trouble for Alfred in the book, something bad is sure to happen at the party.

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The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Free BookNotes Summary Study Guide

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