The Brave - Chapters 1-6 Summary & Analysis

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Chapters 1-6 Summary

The Brave by Robert Lipsyte tells the story of Sonny, a half-white, half-Indian 17-year-old boy with a talent for boxing. Dissatisfied with his life on the Reservation, he heads off to the big city to join the army. Before he can sign up, he is targeted by drug traffickers who reel him into their cause. When he is busted, Sonny is faced with a choice regarding his future. He discovers that boxing goes far beyond the ring.

Sonny has real talent in the ring, but when he fights, he feels a monster rising up within him. It makes him want to lash out and crush the other opponent without thought. His great uncle, Jake, feels as if Sonny has great potential for harnessing the monster, which he calls the hawk. He wants Sonny to continue in Indian tradition by becoming a Running Brave. The Running Braves were men who were specially trained to stand up for and protect members of the Moscondaga tribe. Sonny doesn't want to have anything to do with that.

He decides to join the Army, and he heads to New York City to find his mother so she can sign the papers that will allow him to join the Army since he is under age. Fresh off the bus, he is targeted by a drug dealer who wants to use him as a runner. In his naivety, Sonny doesn't realize what is going on and allows the dealer to befriend him. He is arrested on his very first run.

While in prison, Sonny begins to connect with his heritage. He is beaten up then released into the care of a police officer who works with Jake to train the boy for the ring. During this period of training, Sonny learns to work hard both in the ring and out of it. He also has the opportunity to re-evaluate his life situation and learn how to exercise his mind as well as his body so that he can tap into the strength of the monster when it arises.

Martin is a boy Sonny's age whose job it is to help Sonny with his training. At first they don't get along, but Martin has a great respect for Jake, and eventually the two become good friends. They decide to take on the amateur circuit since that is the easiest way to the top. However, circumstances force Sonny to go immediately into the professional circuit, which is much more difficult. With the support of Jake, the police officer, Martin, and Martin's family, Sonny is up to facing the challenge. While this is all happening, Brooks, the police officer who has become like a father to Sonny, continues to fight to get drugs off the street. Sonny is faced with a decision in regards to who his friends truly are. He also has to come to terms with the idea of what is right and wrong out on the streets as well as in the ring.

Chapters 1-6 Analysis

Chapter 1

In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to Sonny Bear. It's obvious that he has a passion for boxing, that he comes from a Reservation, and he is not a crowd favorite. He is good at what he does, but he lets his emotions take control. His lack of control comes back against him. He deals with prejudice, and he is quick to try to place blame on the prejudice, but Jake won't let him settle the blame on others. Jake points out that it's up to him to do things right. In this chapter, the reader understands that Sonny is a mixed blood white boy who doesn't identify with either part of his heritage.

Chapter 2

Sonny wanted to get away from life on the Reservation. He thought about the warriors of his past and identified with them as his senses sharpened in preparation for his leaving. Even though he identified with them, he was quick to brush aside his connection to them. This is consistent with the lack of connection he has shown for his Indian heritage. Jake was there for him in his fights, and he is there for him again as Sonny tries to leave. He doesn't agree with what Sonny is doing, but he still helps the boy. As Sonny gets on the bus to leave, the driver tells him not to bring alcohol on the bus. This shows some of the stereotyping and prejudice Sonny is used to dealing with in his regular life. As Chapter 2 ends, the reader sees a different side of Sonny. The reader already knows that he is a fighter, and now they also see him as an artist. However, he tries to hide his art.

Chapter 3

As Sonny steps off the bus, he fights back panic. This does not make him want to turn around and go back to the Reservation. Instead, he braces himself for the new situation and moves forward. Although he is large and tough in the ring, he is naïve and fresh bait for the city teens. Sonny doesn't trust the boy that he meets very much, but he is drawn in by the girl. In the ring he can't control the monster, and the same thing happens in his street reality when he feels as if he has to protect the girl. He lets the monster take control, and he lashes out against a police officer.

Chapter 4

Sonny finds himself surrounded by police officers, and he discovers he is missing his wallet. Although he knows his new friends had turned on him, he is reluctant to turn them in. He has already formed a strong attachment for the girl and wants to protect her. Sergeant Brooks is a tough character who is open to talking with him. Sonny doesn't want any favors, however, and he continues to let the monster take over. Brooks doesn't want to play his game and lets him go.

Chapter 5

Doll didn't come in to help them, but she is there waiting for him when he gets out. She introduces him to the scene on The Deuce. In Chub's restaurant, Sonny identifies people as crack dealers and feels unsafe. This is ironic since he had already hooked up with drug dealers, but that didn't seem to faze him. He finds out that Doll is a young mother, but instead of turning him off, it makes him feel even more attracted to her. He is in the city to look for his own mother who leaves him regularly, so this might be some of the attraction Doll holds for him. She is dedicated to her child. Doll knows the scene, and she knows how to survive. She gets Sonny involved with a drug run almost immediately, acting as his agent.

Chapter 6

Still feeling nervous and unsettled, Sonny refuses to back down and go back to the Reservation. He now has a mission, and he gets on the bus to go to New Jersey to drop off strokes. He notices some unusual things that make him feel on edge, but he talks himself out of his paranoia. He should have listened to his gut. Instead of everything being fine, he finds himself under arrest.

This section contains 1,210 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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