The Contender Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Describe the character of Alfred in Chapter 1. Where does Alfred live and what does the exposition reveal about his history?

Alfred is a seventeen-year-old boy who lives in Harlem in a rough neighborhood. His happy childhood memories include kicking beer cans down a street and hiding from bullies under rocks. He lives with his aunt since his father left him, and his mother is dead. Alfred made it though his tough years thanks to his friendship with James.

2. Where is Alfred in the beginning of Chapter 1? Where does he go to look for James? How does Alfred feel about James?

Alfred is on the stoop of his aunt's house waiting for his friend James to show up. They are supposed to go to the movies together, but James is late. Alfred decides to go find his friend. Part of him is conflicted. They have been friends since they were young, but he doesn't like James' choice of new friends.

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