Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 275
The protagonist of this story is Sargeant, a large black man who is homeless and unemployed. Used to traveling on freight trains, he is a classic hobo, or, as he calls himself, "a bum on the road." Sargeant has presumably been homeless for a long time, as he barely notices the snow. He seems to create an unfavorable impression because of his size and color, particularly in the very white town into which he has wandered—unfortunately for him. Having been rejected by a minister whose door he knocked upon, Sargeant attempts to break down a church door and is arrested by police.
The Reverend Mr. Dorset is the minister whose door Sargeant knocks on. The Reverend decides immediately that he will not let Sargeant in. He tells him to go to the Relief Shelter, even though he knows there will be no beds or food there for Sargeant.
Several white people appear in the story, having gathered in the street to protest when Sargeant is trying to break into the church. There are also two white police officers who attempt to arrest Sargeant. At the end of the story, it becomes clear that they succeed.
Sargeant's response to the police violence is to go into a fantasy world in which he pulls down the church. In this fantasy, he meets Christ. Christ has been rescued from the cross by Sargeant's actions. He jokes with Sargeant, treats him as an equal, and walks with him to the railroad yard. This is the Christ who is happy to talk to hobos and loves his neighbor, the polar opposite of the supposed Christians earlier in the story.