Denver picks up his narration. He and Ron continue spending time together, with Denver showing Ron the ins and outs of “the hood” and Ron showing Denver things like the difference between a taco and an enchilada. Denver also starts talking with Deborah rather than brushing her off as he used to, and helping her, Sister Bettie, and Mary Ellen around the mission.
Although both friends certainly benefit from the relationship, there seems to be a qualitative difference in what they are learning from each other. Although Ron thought he would be the “indulgent benefactor,” it seems that Denver has more to offer, indicating once more how appearances and prejudices often do not reflect reality.
Denver first met Sister Bettie before Ron and Deborah came to the Union Gospel Mission. After the death of her husband, Sister Bettie moved from her normal house into the mission and committed her life to the homeless, selling everything she’d once owned. Constantly, she’d ask for food and blankets from businesses in the city and then wander the worst neighborhoods distributing to anyone who looked like they could use them. Sister Bettie believes she is protected by God’s angels, but Denver knows that she is so loved by the homeless that “even the meanest man on the street wouldn’t dare lay a hand on her, ‘cause he’d get beat down if he did.”
Sister Bettie, though a relatively minor character, represents what Deborah aspires to be. Unlike most people, Sister Bettie represents absolutely selfless compassion, giving to any who have need without asking anything of them or even making them sit through a Christian message. Thus, Sister Bettie seems to epitomize Christian compassion, a goal for Ron and Deborah to aspire to.
Denver starts helping Sister Bettie feed other homeless people at the Lot—“one a’ the worst neighborhoods in the city”—every Wednesday. Although he still drinks, Denver tries not to drink heavily on Tuesday nights so he can still help Sister Bettie in the morning.
In cutting back his drinking, Denver benefits from helping Sister Bettie feed others, which parallels Ron’s own benefit—through growth of character and sense of fulfillment—that comes through helping others.