In case anyone else comes by here, this is the setup:
The story opens with "Lefty" held between two robed Klansmen, and he taunts them into punching him. He sees a tree and wonders if he'll be hung from it the same as Emily and another man.
Flashback to Lefty arriving at State College. He's escaping from his home life, which consists of a weak mother and a drunken, abusive, atheist, union card-carrying dad. Consequently, Lefty avoids booze, wants to get involved in a church, and shuns any thought of joining a union. He wants to be the exact opposite of Daddy.
At the college, he works at a local paper and ticks off the other guys in the shop because he won't join. He's terrified around girls and is afraid he might be gay (at least, that's what I concluded), and the church he joins soaks him for donations to fund missionary work in China. He does things because everyone else does them, but is miserable and looks for excuses to bow out. He wants to be conventional and not rock any boats, and yet completely different from what's expected or wanted of him.
It's hard to peg him because he changes with the wind, and I got tired of trying to keep up with him. So I bailed.
eBook Campus Town