Denver continues his narration. Denver brings Scott with him to see Mr. Ballantine, but he worries that Scott will not be able to handle it since Ron couldn’t. While they are there, Scott chats with the man and asks if there is anything he can get for him. Mr. Ballantine states that he wants cigarettes and Ensure (a drink mix). When they leave to buy the products, Scott feels conflicted about buying the man cigarettes, protesting that, “It feels like I’m helping him kill himself.” After Denver points out that Scott is judging Mr. Ballantine rather than blessing him, and that cigarettes are one of his few joys in the world, Scott relents and buys the cigarettes as well.
Scott’s hesitance to buy Mr. Ballantine cigarettes—which Scott perceives as “bad”—is a perfect example of the conflict between love and ego. Although Scott wants to love and bless Mr. Ballantine, he approaches it with the mentality that he knows what is best for the man. Denver aptly points out that Scott asked a question and then judges Mr. Ballantine with his answer, suggesting that Scott’s own ego is dominating his desire to be a blessing.
Mr. Ballantine, surprised that Scott paid for the cigarettes, asks Denver why someone would do something like that. Denver tells Mr. Ballantine it is because both he and Scott are Christians. Touched, Mr. Ballantine apologizes for his meanness, stops calling Denver “nigger,” and even lets Denver take him to church a few weeks later.
Scott’s willingness to follow Denver’s lead, release his ego, and buy the cigarettes leaves a deep impression on Mr. Ballantine. The book implies that this act ultimately does him more good than any harm a pack of cigarettes could cause. This demonstrates the power of love and service, shorn of ego, to change someone’s heart.