In chapter 8 Conroy decides to move from his house on the island and back to his family home. It means he will have to take a longer commute across the river, but he says he has always enjoyed the trip, and anyway, he can no longer stay in a house that is infested with vermin.
In the first few months his trips to school are as pleasant as they've always been. It becomes a bit more difficult when winter kicks in in December, but it is nothing compared to January and the most "severe [in South Carolina] cold spell since 1952. "For in that week I met the father of cold, the grand cold, the inquisitor of cold, and the pope of cold."
He struggles on until the school board send him a letter telling him that his travel expenses have simply become too expensive and they can only afford to pay for his gas on Mondays and Fridays. The rest he will have to pay himself.
After everything he has done for the school, Conroy is furious. It is not in his nature to just let it go, so he decides to confront the board during a school meeting. The chairman Piedmont decides not to come, but this works in Conroy's favor. He tells the two men there, Bennington and Sedgwick, that they hold no power and they are just saying what Piedmont told them to say. When Conroy attempts to leave the room in protest, they call him back and say, "I know where we can get cheaper gas."