What is the significance of the waiting room scene?
The discussion in the waiting room brings out the young man’s militancy and the minister’s endurance. After the minister leaves, the high point of this conflict is reached in paragraphs 220–230, particularly the young man’s question to the nearby lady, “Name me one right that you have. One right, granted by the Constitution, that you can exercise in Bayonne.” It is such radicalism, the story suggests, that may become a wave of the future. Certainly the young boy, James, immediately identifies with the young man’s character and ideas (paragraph 185). That the minister strikes the young man demonstrates that anger and misunderstanding keep people apart even when they should be allies (paragraphs 165–170). The young man’s turning the other cheek therefore does not deter the minister from using force, but rather encourages it.