A few nights later, Ally sits at the kitchen table, trying to complete her homework: a paper describing her feelings on a short story Mr. Daniels read. Ally knows it shouldn't be hard, but she thinks it'll take her forever to write and be unintelligible anyway. Travis walks in the door happily but refuses to help Ally with her paper. He says he can fix her car, but says he'd rather eat a bag of hair than write. Travis insists he's no better at writing than Ally is.
It's telling that Ally is trying to honestly attempt this assignment at all; this speaks to the degree to which she already idolizes Mr. Daniels and wants to do well for him. Travis's excuses, on the other hand, again suggest that he's also dealing with dyslexia, given that his excuses seem like they could've feasibly come from Ally.
Ally can't decide whether or not to turn in her paper at all. In truth it took her all night and gave her a horrible headache, but she's afraid that Mr. Daniels will think she did it in only a few minutes. He's in the hallway with another student, but Keisha snags Ally at the door and gives her a cupcake. She snaps at Max when he seems jealous, and Oliver flails and says, "Me want cupcake!" Shay calls Oliver a freak and says that Cookie Monster talks like that, but Oliver gets a serious look on his face and insists that he's talking like that. Shay and Jessica stalk off and Oliver remembers that he hid a cookie in his desk after the Halloween party. He goes to search for it.
The fact that Oliver feels comfortable standing up to Shay offers hope that Mr. Daniels is creating positive and permanent change in his class's social hierarchy. By refusing to be hurt by Shay's words, Oliver denies her of her power. Similarly, Keisha's cupcake for Ally is another way that students can celebrate the changing social structure and the fact that Shay is gradually becoming less powerful, as well as mark their new friendship.
Keisha remarks that the class loses control over food and then gives Ally the cupcake. She says it's to thank Ally for what she did with the flowers. Inside, the cupcake says "wow." Mr. Daniels calls the class to attention and then Keisha quietly tells Ally that she has guts. She invites Ally to sit with her at lunch, and Ally watches a mind movie of them eating happily together. Ally accepts the invitation.
The invitation to sit with Keisha shows the true power of changing the social hierarchy: former outcasts like Ally can now feel safer trying to make friends, as the consequences of trying and possibly failing aren't as steep as they once were.
Ally has the best lunch and recess she's had in a long time. Mr. Daniels calls Ally to his desk afterwards, her notebook and homework in his hands and a smile trying to hide a serious look on his face. He praises her for turning in her paper but asks how long it took her to do it. Ally considers telling him she rushed it but admits that it took her a long time and she tried to do her best. Mr. Daniels praises her again for trying.
By choosing to tell the truth, Ally shows that she trusts Mr. Daniels to not make fun of her or punish her for the poor writing or how long it took her. His praise allows him to tell Ally that he values trying and failing over perfection, which will help Ally become more comfortable with failure.