Junior is suspended when, in a rage at realizing his geometry book is over thirty years older than he is, he throws the book and hits his teacher in the face. While he is serving his suspension, Mr. P comes to visit him at home. The teacher tells Junior that hitting him with the book is "probably the worst thing (he's) ever done", but then confesses that, as part of the white race, he himself has been greatly unjust to Junior and his people. Mr. P says that he "hurt a lot of Indian kids when (he) was a young teacher", having been instructed that the best way to deal with his Native American students was to "make (them) give up being Indian". He reveals to Junior that Junior's sister Mary, who spends her days watching television in the basement, was "the smartest kid (he) ever had". Mary had wanted to be a writer, but never found the courage or confidence to pursue her dreams.
Mr. P tells Junior that he, like his sister, is "a bright and shining star...the smartest kid in the school". He says that Junior deserves better than what Indians on the reservation are allowed, and that the only way he will find a better life is if he leaves the reservation. Mr. P tells Junior that the only thing reservation kids are being taught is "to give up"; his friend Rowdy has already given up, and that's why he's so mean. Junior, however, still has hope in his heart, and the only way for him to keep that hope is to "go somewhere where other people have hope" (Chapter 5).