Basically ignored by his peers, Junior is miserable in the weeks leading towards Thanksgiving. He does realize, however, with a small sense of gratification, that he is "smarter than most of those white kids". One day in geology class, he dares to correct the teacher during a lesson on petrified wood. The teacher, "dangerously angry" at being challenged by an Indian, no less, is further infuriated when the "class genius", Gordy, affirms that Junior is right. Junior later thanks Gordy for sticking up for him, but Gordy replies that he only did it in the name of science.
Transportation to and from school is difficult for Junior. Sometimes his Dad drives him, but more often than not, Dad has wasted his money on gambling and drink, and there is nothing left for gas. Sometimes Junior walks the entire twenty-two miles.
One day, when he gets home, Junior finds his mother crying. His sister has run off and married a Flathead Indian she met at the casino and has moved to Montana. Although he understands why his parents are devastated, he admires his sister's courage. She is "trying to live out her dream".
Inspired by his sister, Junior approaches Gordy the next day and says he wants to be friends. Gordy is "one weird dude" who loves computers and uses big words, but he, like Junior, is a social outcast. The two do become friends, not like Junior and Rowdy used to be, but friends nonetheless. Junior and Gordy study together, and best of all, through Gordy, Junior finds joy in learning (Chapter 12).