Summary and Analysis Chapter 8



Major and his henchmen have taken Alfred to the clubroom where they attempt to intimidate him. They want him to help in another burglary of the Epstein brothers' grocery. Alfred is to do what he earlier considered: disconnect the alarm. Although he literally quakes with fear, Alfred refuses to cooperate. Major attempts to bully him and even pulls a knife, but Alfred holds his ground. Major is the one who buckles. Alfred returns home feeling victorious.


As Chapter 8 opens, Alfred has been forced to go to the clubroom with Major, Hollis, and Sonny. This situation could be a very dangerous one for Alfred, recalling the way these three boys seriously roughed him up when they caught him alone at night at the end of Chapter l. The implication of Alfred's first confrontation with the three boys was that the beating would have been much worse had two policemen not come along.

Now, however, Alfred is able to get Major to back down by standing up to him. Major is a bully and a coward, but a reasonable reader might question whether the outcome is realistic. Major is humiliated in front of his sidekicks and lamely gives Alfred three days "to decide" whether he will help with the burglary even though Alfred repeatedly refuses to do so. The result tells us more about Major than it does about most gang leaders in general. Fortunately for Alfred, Major is bluffing.