Joe’s mother, Hannah Pitt, walks around her house, accompanied by another woman. Hannah addresses this woman as her friend, Sister Ella Chapter—a real estate agent who’s going to help Hannah sell the house. Ella repeatedly tells Hannah that she has a wonderful property that will be worth lots of money. Hannah snaps and says that she’s not so sure. She complains that she’s moving to New York to see her son, whom she no longer understands. She also mentions that she finds Salt Lake City insufferable—there are too many dull people there.
This is our first real look at Hannah Pitt’s personality, and she’s a rather intriguing character. She doesn’t have the veneer of friendliness and “family values” that seems to characterize most of the Mormons in Salt Lake City, but she does have a deep and fierce loyalty to her son, no matter his “sins.” Hannah is a good example of human compassion overcoming one’s religious beliefs—she might think Joe is being sinful, but he is still her son and so she automatically wants to help him.
As Hannah talks about New York, Ella tells Hannah that Hannah is the only unfriendly Mormon she’s ever met. Ella advises Hannah not to go to New York, since it’s frightening, sinful, and “cold” there. Hannah shakes her head—it’s time for her to leave Salt Lake City and go across the country.
Hannah takes on a dramatically ironic “quest,” the exact opposite of the one that the first Mormons took in the 19th century. I.e., instead of traveling from New York to Utah, Hannah travels from Utah back to New York.