Alfred's hold on his new life is tenuous. He wavers between hope and despair. In this chapter, we see a young man at a crossroads in life, and he is struggling to determine which path to take. One continuing problem for Alfred is that he can be excessively influenced by those around him. (This will be a more serious problem for Alfred later.) He is just beginning to be his own man, another theme of the novel. Lipsyte demonstrates Alfred's vulnerability in three very different settings in this chapter.Alfred's first challenge is in the park. He is trying a new regimen, and at first everything goes well. He is up at 5:30 a.m. and soon on the run. Sweet air fills his lungs. Although he is just beginning to get in shape, and a sharp pain runs through his side, Alfred is filled with joy. A silly smile crosses his face. He is a healthy young man who feels the gratification of accomplishing something. Still, this
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