The smell of the Cathedral irked Theodore – candle wax, incense, the hollow, stale smell of a tomb without even the virtues of coolness and privacy, the smell of old cloth and old wood, the sweaty sweetness of crumpled peso notes, and, bringing it all out and binding it like salt, the smell of human bodies and breaths. Theodore supposed that Ramón reacted like Pavlov’s dog to this particular smell and its variations in other churches. Sanctity. Genuflect. Cross yourself. Tread lightly. This is a holy place. The air has not been changed in four hundred years – or however old the place might be. This Cathedral was nearly four hundred years old. And now to bring his barbarity in here with him and spill it all out! With the bland certainty, too, that some invisible yet all-powerful thing was going to forgive him!
Theodore squirmed on the hard wooden seat. Ramón’s sins were only different in degree, after all. People came in sometimes scheming how to pick somebody’s pocket. A sign on the front of the door warned people in Spanish and in English to beware of pickpockets within the Cathedral. It was impossible to get one’s mind off money. Wooden alms boxes on pedestals everywhere pleaded in printed notices for money for the children, for the poor, for the upkeep of the church; and each had a huge padlock on it to keep those very poor from taking what was as much theirs as anybody else’s.
This story is dripping with nihilism. Maybe that's why all the characters feel so detached?