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The Contender

Robert Lipsyte

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title · The Contender

author · Robert Lipsyte

type of work · Novel

genre · Young adult, Fiction

language · English

time and place written · [Time] Las Vegas

date of first publication · 1967

publisher · HarperCollins

narrator · Anonymous

point of view · The point of view is third person limited, reflecting the point of view of Alfred Brooks.

tone · The tone in the book is serious, and it is sometimes dismal and graphic in description.

tense · Past tense

setting (time) · The book takes place in relatively modern times, perhaps within the decade of the 1970s.

setting (place) · New York City, primarily Harlem

protagonist · Alfred Brooks

major conflict · Alfred's struggle to commit to something as difficult as boxing; Alfred's attempt to salvage a sense of self worth

rising action · Alfred attending the clubhouse and lapsing in his training

climax · Alfred rejoining the gym and pursuing his training to his first fight

falling action · Alfred's last fight and retirement from the world of boxing

themes · What it means to be a contender; self-improvement; quitting; fitting in

motifs · Loyalty; the pursuit of dreams; winning

symbols · The hideout in Central Park; Alfred's boxing robe; the stairs to Donatelli's gym

foreshadowing · Donatelli's speech about being a contender; Donatelli's statement about not knowing whether or not a man has what it takes until he gets hurt; the flyers for the recreation center; Spoon's statement about Donatelli advising him to retire and go to school and their resulting close friendship

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