Alfred's primary motivation in completing his schedule of fights are his desire to overcome his fear and his limitations and his desire to exceed what he had previously thought was his potential. He has learned that he is someone capable of much more than he previously thought, and knowing that has given him a greater sense of worth. He does not want to cut against that same sense of worth by quitting or giving up too soon, even if he knows that he retire eventually. Alfred's realization that Mr. Donatelli referred to more than boxing when he was telling Alfred about trying to become a contender shows the ways in which the lessons Alfred has learned in boxing have extended to other facets of his life. Lipsyte represents boxing as a microcosm of life, within which there are good guys with good hearts and bad guys with bad hearts, talented and untalented boxers, boxers who are afraid and some who are fearless, and some who are contenders and some who are not.