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Unformatted text preview: However, many blacks were struggling even in the 1920s, and whites owned most of the businesses. The Great Depression, beginning in 1929, hit hardest the poor. Employment improved during the United States' involvement in World War II (194145), but Harlem's economy sank in the next twenty years. By the 1960s, when The Contender takes place, housing conditions had deteriorated; there were extensive slums. The African American middle class, made up of people like the novel's Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Wilson, left Harlem for suburban areas like Queens. The repressive mood of Lipsyte's first chapter is justified. It is the Harlem that Alfred first wants to escape and then wants to change. The "nationalist rally," which Alfred and his family pass on their way to church at the beginning of Chapter 4, and whose supporters Alfred later encounters, further reflects the culture of the time. Chapter 4, and whose supporters Alfred later encounters, further reflects the culture of the time....
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- Fall '09
- The Contender