Landon begins this chapter by informing the reader that he plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His grades aren't good enough for the Ivy League, but even UNC seems touch and go by his senior year, in spite of his father's contacts there. So, in order to help his chances of acceptance, his father decides that Landon will run for Student Body President at Beaufort High School. Landon indicates he's not interested, but his father's word is law and there is no backing out. He realizes that he's up against only two other people - John Foreman, who doesn't stand a chance, because he's a brown-noser and a geek, and Maggie Brown who is serious competition, because she has served on Student Council and was Junior Class President.

However, Landon even dismisses her chances against him, because she is unattractive and none of the guys will vote for her. Landon then formulates his entire campaign around passing out obligatory fliers and getting his best friend, Eric Hunter, the best player on the football team, to strong arm the team and their girlfriends to vote for him. However, even though he wins by a large majority, Landon tells us that he didn't know at the time what trouble it would lead him to.

Landon had gone steady with Angela Clark his entire Junior year until she dumped him for Lew, who is twenty years old and a mechanic. He is one of those bad boys who seem to attract even the nicest girls. As a result, Landon finds himself without a date for homecoming, and as Student Body President, that will be disastrous. He's required to attend the dance and if he doesn't have a date, he'll be expected to scoop punch all night long or mop up barf in the bathroom. So, he begins leafing through the yearbook to find someone who is attractive, but still available. He eliminates girl after girl for various reasons, but mostly because he wouldn't be caught dead with them or they already have a date. Then, he comes upon Jamie Sullivan's picture and he knows she's his last chance, in spite of the fact that he'll probably be roasted alive by all his friends for taking someone as weird as her to homecoming.

He runs over to her house after school the next afternoon and is amazed to find her looking actually normal, in blue jeans and a red blouse. She's not allowed to ask him in, because her father isn't home, but they sit together on the porch. Landon spends a few minutes trying to turn his back to the neighborhood, so no one will know he's there, even though it means he has to sit in the hot sun. Then, he gets around to actually asking Jamie to the dance. At first, she hesitates as if she's going to turn him down. Landon feels like kicking himself for all the times in the past when he had teased her or called her father a fornicator or made fun of her behind her back. But then, Jamie smiles and says she'd love to go, on one condition: he has to promise not to fall in love with her. He knows she's just kidding and has to admit that as strange as she seems, she sometimes has a great sense of humor.


This chapter is the author's way of developing the superficial, lazy character of Landon. We see how little grades mean to him, even though he wants to be accepted at UNC, how being attractive is the only important trait a girl needs to have, how the opinions of others rule the decisions he makes, and how petty and mean he can be toward people who aren't in his golden circle of friends. It's also the way the author prepares us for how life-changing his senior year will be, beginning with his date for the homecoming dance.

The first moment that Landon sees Jamie Sullivan when he comes to her home is the first step toward his change: she isn't as strange as he always thought; she's actually rather normal. Also, we get to see her up close and realize that's she's a very nice girl who has wit enough to tell him he mustn't fall in love with her. The irony is that, in spite of Landon's realization that Jamie's joking, that's exactly what will happen.


Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".