Robert attends Riverview High School, which is only notable for its anti-semitic attitudes, homophobia, boredom, and anti-communist paranoia. Robert has no interest in any of his classes except for ROTC, a class he is taking instead of PE. His boredom and hatred for school grows and he eventually stops attending for large periods of time, preferring to hang out with Kenny Papescu and his girlfriend Linda in a very beatnik part of town. On a day that he actually attends, he finds that his ROTC sergeant has been fired, on the grounds of being a Communist. Robert's truancy increases even more, except on the occasions that he seeks shelter in Riverview from the Chicago winter.
Finally the school orders him to be transferred to a correctional school but, from the recommendation of Kenny Papescu, Robert convinces his parents to let him attend Wheaton, a private school. At Wheaton, truancy, when it is even noticed, goes unpunished. This is how, Robert learns, Kenny Papescu has never been to school in over two years. Robert ends up getting straight A's, some in courses he didn't know he was enrolled in. Robert matures greatly while attending the Wheaton school and learns to appreciate art, chess, and the city's architecture; the freedom that it provides allows him to explore his interests with the guidance of the teachers. Robert concludes his high school reflection with the hope that he be admitted to the college.