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The Contender

  • Study Guide
Characters

Alfred Brooks

Characters Alfred Brooks

Alfred is a very real, dynamic character. He has flaws—almost fatal ones—and sometimes acts in ways that can make us cringe. He is unfailingly human, which is ultimately why his character is so compelling. In addition to his susceptibility to temptation, he is vulnerable to those weaknesses which everyone feels—loneliness, the need to fit in, wondering if one is good at anything, wondering whether one is special. These are basic doubts with which many teenager and adult copes, and the reason Alfred is so convincing as a character is that while he copes with these questions, he falters. Sometimes he thinks he has hit upon an answer, only to realize he is completely off base. He makes mistakes, he does things he later regrets, but all he can do is move forward.

One of these movements takes the form of boxing training, and soon Alfred gets frustrated and falls back into the old temptations of drugs and alcohol. But the need to be self aware and to exceed what he once believed to be his own limitations pushes him forward again. He makes reparations for his mistakes and starts all over again, working twice as hard. Ultimately, this encourages Mr. Donatelli gives him the benefit of the doubt. Alfred is confused and is in many ways lost, but through it all he tries his best. What Alfred goes through is not pretty—he gets beat up, bleeds, sweats, and vomits. But he is gritty and determined and eventually prevails. He might not have the raw talent it takes to be a boxer, but he has the heart.