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Free Online Study Guide-The Contender by Robert Lipsyte-Book Summary/BookNotes
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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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