Back (in time) at Princeton, Jimmy's in class, reading from Webster. It's a verrrry Ivy League setting -- wood-paneled library lit by desk lamps, a dozen or so students seated in armchairs arranged haphazardly around the room. And hoo boy, is the Michael Pitt Hair getting time to stretch out today; this is some Murder By Numbers action. The young professor is one of those cool profs who jokes around with the students but also tries to help them genuinely learn their stuff. The story they're reading is predictably reflective of Jimmy's own story -- "His mother taught him things that aren't of any use," Jimmy analyzes. "Everyone around him is getting rich, and he can taste it like a hunger." Throw in some inappropriate "suckling at mama's breast" imagery, and you've pretty much got Jimmy. After class lets out, one of Jimmy's classmates says he can't make class next week because of ROTC. "Taking your soldiering seriously?" the professor lightly teases. "We're headed for war, aren't we?" is the overly serious response. Jimmy jests that he "just likes the uniform," which leads to a small contretemps wherein Jimmy says that "the Kaiser never hurt me." The bespectacled kid standing next to our ROTC guy pipes up that his brother was killed on the Lusitania. Jimmy genuinely apologizes (have we EVER seen him this humbled?) and ROTC Guy shames an apology out of him.
Before Jimmy leaves, the prof calls him aside. "You won't win that way, with people like that," he tells Jimmy. He knows it, but he explains, "Where I come from, people come out swingin'." Prof wonders if he's going back there after school. Jimmy says that's what Mr. Thompson and his mother say he's supposed to do. "Mr. Thompson" is footing the bill at Princeton, after all. "As long as I don't screw up." Prof tells Jimmy that "people like us" -- i.e. folks who grew up poor -- need to be "clever." They quote some more Webster at each other, and then plan to see each other at the mixer tonight.