The story is saturated with religious references. Religion is not a comforting or joyful presence in the Grimes household or in the neighborhood in which they live. Instead, it is something to be feared and obeyed. Gabriel is a reverend, and he has raised his children to be God-fearing individuals. As a result, they see the world in extremes of people who are saved and people who are sinners. When John and Roy are sitting on the fire escape, they look down to the street, where "below them, men and women, and boys and girls, sinners all, loitered."