Free Study Guide for The Contender by Robert Lipsyte Free BookNotes|
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THE CONTENDER - FREE CHAPTER ANALYSIS / STUDY NOTES
All through the novel, Alfred has been haunted by James. Even
when his friend has been absent for weeks, Alfred keeps thinking about him and
wants to see him. When he learns that James has fallen into bad company and has
started using drugs, Alfred is very concerned about him. He wants to reform James,
but feels helpless to do anything for his friend. When he spies James near his
house, Alfred calls him and offers to provide him food and shelter. Unfortunately,
James refuses Alfred’s kindness and simply asks for money. When Alfred gives him
six dollars, he realizes that James will probably use it to buy drugs. His heart
goes out to his troubled friend.
In Alfred’s third boxing match, his opponent is Barnes, a rough and crude boxer. He has no qualms about hitting Alfred mercilessly. Unfortunately, Alfred is boxing with a handicap. After seriously injuring his last opponent, he is determined not to inflict the same kind of pain again. As a result, he refuses to attack Barnes; he merely tries to defend himself. When Barnes falls down, Alfred does not even try to take advantage of his superior position. The match finally ends in a draw.
Henry, Bud and Donatelli are disappointed in Alfred’s
performance, but they refrain from talking to Alfred about it after the fight.
Later, Donatelli takes Alfred to the gym and asks him to retire from boxing. He
feels Alfred lacks the aggressive instinct to become a champion. He encourages
Alfred to use his ability in some constructive activity rather than in boxing.
Alfred agrees with Donatelli, but he expresses a desire to fight one more match
before quitting boxing.
In his third match, Alfred cannot fight with any spirit, for he is haunted by the memory of the battered Griffin, his last opponent whom he seriously injured. When Barnes hits him hard and repeatedly, Alfred can only try to defend himself. He will not take the offensive and fight with aggression. Even when he knocks Barnes down in a defensive move, he will not take advantage of his position. The match ends in a draw.
Although Donatelli is disappointed in Alfred’s lack of aggression in the ring,
he is too kind to reproach him in front of others. Instead, he takes Alfred to
the gym and advises him to retire from boxing, saying that he lacks the killer
instinct that is needed to become a champion. He encourages Alfred to use his
energy and ability in another field where he can be more successful. Alfred agrees
with Donatelli’s judgement and accepts his practical and sensible advice; he does,
however, ask for the chance to box in one more match before permanently retiring
from the ring.
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. 09 May 2017