Z's Corner

Hey everyone Za’id’s corner is back. Let it rain confetti because I’m back.  So I had to read this book recently called The Contender by Robert Lipsyte. It was assigned to my 8th grade class for literature. It’s a pretty good book I thought. I like many things about this book. The main character in this story is named Alfred. Alfred lives in a tough neighborhood and he lives with his Aunt Pearl because his mom died and his dad left him. His friend James is now getting mixed into the wrong crowd with a group of guys headed by a character named Major who keeps James caged with drugs because James is addicted to heroin. Alfred recently dropped out of high school and now works at a grocery store. A friend of his named Henry suggests he should go to the boxing gym and try boxing. Eventually after many times second guessing the decision, he decides to buy into the training for boxing. He trains for a long time then he finally gets to fight. He fights 3 fights and wins all three. Then his trainer Mr. Donatelli suggests that he retire because he doesn’t have the killer boxing instinct. Donatelli is a good man and he does not want to see Alfred get hurt just because he could possibly make money once he turns pro. Alfred wants to prove to himself he is a battler and contender in life by fighting one more fight against a fighter where the odds were mightily stacked against him. He battled through a slug fest with this fighter named Elston Hubbard. He made it through the fight but lost by decision. Boxing gave Alfred the confidence to want to be a productive part of the community instead of going Major’s route of crime. There are many ways race is portrayed in this book and different ways blacks handle being a black man in that timeframe. Major uses his race as an excuse to not care and to commit crimes that didn’t bring him any closer to advancement in the world. There are black nationalists who demand fair rights in this book. To me their views make the most sense. Committing crimes is irrational but demanding equal rights makes complete sense. The reverend of the church Alfred goes to believes in taking what the white man gives you. This idea seems too passive. Alfred’s Uncle Wilson believes the same. All in all this is a very good book that you will want to read all the way through.