After spending a crushingly awkward summer with his family, Benton starts at the University of Atlanta and meets his new roommate, a boy named Cabot Searcy.
They're polar opposites, but
they still get along quite well. Cabot is rich, doesn't care that much about
his studies, and chases lots of girls; Benton is serious, deeply devout, and
studies all the time.
Benton's studying actually
rubs off a little on Cabot, though, and at the end of the semester he passes.
Benton, on the other hand, ends up failing two of his courses. That doesn't
On Christmas Eve, Benton is
alone because he didn't go home to see his family—they didn't want him there
anyway. He calls his mom, but no one answers, so devastated and alone, he walks
up to the church bell tour and jumps off.