Traveling between Reardan and Wellpinit on the reservation, Junior feels like a stranger; "half Indian in one place and half white in the other". He has hidden his poverty well in Reardan, "no one knows the truth".
When Junior asks Penelope to Winter Formal, he wears his father's old polyester suit, and must ask his date to meet him at the dance because he has no transportation for her. Penelope is not too happy about the latter arrangement, but fortunately, she loves Junior's outfit. The two have a wonderful time, dancing every dance.
Junior is relieved to have made it through the evening without having had to reveal his poverty, but after the dance, "Roger and a few of the other dudes" invite him and Penelope to go out for breakfast. Penelope is thrilled, but Junior is worried because he only has five dollars. Throwing caution to the wind, he orders large meals for both himself and his date, then goes to the bathroom, where he runs into Roger. They talk, and Junior takes a chance and tells Roger he forgot his wallet; Roger hands him forty dollars.
Back at her house, Penelope confronts Junior. Roger has told her about Junior borrowing the money, and Penelope asks Junior point blank if he is poor. Realizing that she is just being a really good friend, Junior tells her the truth.
Roger, who is "a little bit racist" but is also basically a good, generous person, drives Junior all the way home that night, and "plenty of other nights too". Junior realizes for the first time that, "if you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing" (Chapter 17).