Jim goes off to college in Lincoln, Nebraska. He gets a tutor he likes named Gaston Cleric, who is the head of the Latin department.
For his first summer vacation Jim chooses to stay in Lincoln and get ahead on his studies again rather than go home. His tutor stays around, too, so the two of them spend a lot of time together.
Narrator-Jim considers this period of his life to be one of the happiest in his life.
There are different kinds of people at the university with Jim. Some of them come from the farms and can barely feed themselves while they study. The instructors are also an eclectic bunch.
The students have very free personal lives. They don't have dorms so they live wherever they want.
Jim lives with an old couple at the edge of town. He gets two rooms for the price of one so he uses one as a study.
He has a wardrobe and a table and bookshelf. He puts a large map of Rome on the wall that he got from Cleric.
Jim buys a nice big chair so that Gaston has a place to sit when he comes to visit. He also buys Benedictine and Gaston's favorite cigarettes so the man will stay and talk for a long time when he's there.
Gaston doesn't talk much in a crowd but he is verbose when alone with Jim. Jim thinks that Gaston could have been a great poet. He gets Jim to appreciate ancient cultures like the Romans and Greeks.
We learn that Gaston used to live in Italy.
One night while they talk about Dante, Cleric repeats passages from the Divine Comedy.
Jim knows that he will never be a scholar himself. He is always distracted looking back at his own childhood memories.