Chapter 2 Summary

Alfred wakes up in Aunt Pearl’s bed; his jaw is swollen and her eyes are red-rimmed from crying and praying over him all night. She tells Alfred that Henry is the one who found him last night, wandering aimlessly with his eyes shut. Henry and his father brought Alfred home. He lies to his aunt about what happened to him; she knows he is lying but does not press him for the truth.

Aunt Pearl’s three daughters stare at him from the doorway until she shoos them away; she tells Alfred that James was arrested last night for trying to break into the Epsteins’ store. Alfred admits that James wanted him to participate in the robbery, but he will not admit that he was beaten up by anyone.

Aunt Pearl is distraught. She knows Alfred tries to be good, but it is so difficult when he lives here; she promises Alfred that one day they will leave this place. After she leaves for work, Alfred sleeps again. When he wakes up at noon, he feels much better. He eats the food Aunt Pearl left him and then grieves because his friend is now in jail. James is in prison because of him.

Alfred is safe inside, but on the streets both the clubroom bullies and the Epsteins will be looking for him. Perhaps he should just stay in bed forever. Finally he forces himself to get up; when he looks in the mirror, he realizes how much worse he could have looked and smiles at how ineffectual the big-talking Sonny, Hollis, and Major are at both beating people up and robbing a store. His grin disappears, though, when he remembers that James is in jail because he forgot about the alarm. Alfred goes back to bed and immediately falls asleep.

Alfred wakes at dusk and hears all of the usual street noises as he gets dressed and then goes outside. A little boy sitting on the stoop tells him that Major and Sonny are looking for him. Alfred sees Henry but hides before the crippled boy sees him because he does not feel like talking to anyone tonight. Soon he...

(The entire section is 503 words.)