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During the course of THE CONTENDER, by Robert Lipsyte, Alfred is influenced by several characters who help him grow, change and learn. Two of the most important were Mr. Donatelli, the owner of the gym, and Alfred's Aunt Pearl. Mr. Donatelli had a positive influence on Alfred, helping him in a variety of ways. When Alfred first came to the gym Mr. Donatelli questioned him to make sure Alfred had what it took to be …

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…press you, you do a man's work and I ain't gonna treat you like a boy. But I know something's wrong! Streets are full of men hangin' around, waitin' for trouble!'" Aunt Pearl was always there for Alfred during the tough times. These people helped Alfred become a good, honest, hard-working, contender. Without their help Alfred could have been roaming the streets with a gang, not caring about anyone, anything and especially about himself.