After the others have left, Alfred suddenly remembers that the Epsteins have installed a new silent burglar alarm. He tries, too late, to warn James. Several police cruisers descend on the grocery. Hoping that James has escaped, Alfred searches for him at their secret cave in the park.Later, Hollis, Sonny, and Major blame Alfred for James' capture. The three attack Alfred, but he escapes a savage beating when two policemen appear in the distance, scaring off the gang members.The first chapter is rich with symbolic imagery. Ragged, skinny children play with empty beer cans. Police sirens fill the night and remind Alfred of Harlem's despair and the conflict with authority. Yet there are lovers in the park, music, and dreams.The setting is crucial to the novel. In this opening chapter, Lipsyte provides his first descriptions of Alfred's Harlem. As Lipsyte presents it, the atmosphere of Harlem is repressive. The sun, often a
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