At the start of Act two, Alec has become involved with religious activities at the Mission and has demonstrated his intelligence by coming equal top in the Bible exam with the Minister’s son.
However, there is a sense that he is engaging in all these activities as a means of avoiding an awkward situation at home and to plug the gap left in his life by his mother's death:
I felt this glow, It was good to feel good. It had come on stronger since my mother died.
This becomes clearer when he reveals he came top in the Bible exam simply by remembering facts and he admits
The questions were a skoosh … Just a matter of rememberin". However, when challenged to think about his own faith by the African visitors,
"When did the Lord Jesus come into your heart?, he is afraid and runs away, never to return to the church.
Prior to this, he has withstood some criticism from both Davie and Ian. Davie sees Alec's faith as a passing phase,
Ach well, keeps ye off the streets but he admires Alec’s ability and encourages him to stick in
… Get yerself a good education. Get a decent job. Collar and tie. Never have to take yer jacket off.
Alec's working class background is emphasised when he sees Norman, the Minister’s son, as a snob and refers to him as
a big snotter who Thinks he’s great. His brief scene with Ian as he makes his way to the Mission, however, suggests Alec may be moving away from his social class as Ian complains
Ye never come ootwi us these days. As he walks to the Mission, some distance away, he hears Ian and his friends
makin a rammy. Somebody kicked over a midden bin, smashed a bottle.
Alec feels he no longer identifies with these pastimes and
got [his] head down, hurried through a close and out into the street, putting a metaphorical distance between his and Ian's social classes. Symbolically, after he runs away from the Mission, he kicks over a midden bin, suggesting that is the class where he is most comfortable.
Following the tension of this scene, there is a humorous scene with him and his father in which they engage in a pretend boxing match. Alec's desire to find a hobby is reflected in his asking his father to teach him to box and suggesting he could join a club.
Davie’s response is
Boxin’s a mug’s game; his father displays common sense in his advice, but in general his own life is sadly lacking in this respect. He is looking for something to fill the gap in his life or perhaps searching for his identity.
Alec has the opportunity to move out of his social class through education when he takes the entrance exam for a private school. The scene is humorous as he is seen to struggle with the maths problems, and his intelligence is clear when he questions the logic of some of the tasks and relates them to his own experience.
Like many pupils, he assumes he has failed, and so is happy to learn that he has not only passed but secured a bursary, meaning money will not be an issue. This opportunity to better himself and move out of his social class will lead to a breakdown in his relationship with his father which was so important at the beginning of the play when his father acknowledged it is
Just you and me now, son.
Ian also realises this symbolises the end of their relationship in his comment,
Aw well, that's it then. His criticisms of the school and its pupils are largely ignored by Alec who has learned to rise above such comments.
Alec's education is clear in his soliloquies when he provides a summary of his work in Latin, music, science, geography, mathematics, religious studies and English. However, compared to the modern day curriculum, much of what he has learned is from memory. It is made clear he still has some growing up to do, as he ends the soliloquy in a way reminiscent of the game Hide and Seek:
University here I come. Ready or not.