Sportcoat makes his way over to the Watch Houses where Rufus lives. Although the rest of the community is worried that Sportcoat’s life is in danger, Sportcoat is still focused on finding the long-lost Christmas fund. Sportcoat tells Rufus about his plight, and Rufus suggests that he pay a visit to Sister Paul, who was previously responsible for the Christmas fund and might know where it is now. Rufus knows Sister Paul because he was one of the original members of the church. Rufus also tells Sportcoat that it was Sister Paul who initially founded the church. After the church’s construction, an Italian man who was fond of Sister Paul painted a portrait of Jesus with the phrase, “May God Hold You in the Palm of His Hand” above Jesus’s head.
Sportcoat continues to live in his own world. He’s determined to find the Christmas fund, perhaps because doing so will allow him to finally find peace after Hettie’s death. Additionally, the mention of an Italian man brings to mind both Elefante and Joe Peck, as they are the only Italian people mentioned in the novel so far.
After his conversation with Rufus, Sportcoat departs from Rufus’ place. On his way out, Earl, who is hiding around the corner, attempts to hit Sportcoat with a pipe. However, before Earl can do so, a baseball that two neighborhood kids attempted to throw at Sportcoat hits him in the head. The blow knocks Earl down, and his hand lands in a rat trap. Earl curses Sportcoat, who is completely oblivious to Earl’s presence in the first place. Sportcoat continues to go on with his day, still unaware that he is in danger.
This passage is another example of the farcical comedy the novel employs. Even though Sportcoat is an old man who is completely unaware of what is going on, Earl’s attempt to injure him fails miserably. In fact, not only does Earl fail, but he ends up getting hurt himself. Although Sportcoat comes out of the situation safe, he still doesn’t recognize that he is danger. This continues Sportcoat’s streak of being somehow incredibly lucky and misfortunate at the same time.