"Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells."

Will thinks being happy can be equated with being good, and Charles Halloway sets his son straight. Will wondered if his father was a good man because he was so sad, but Mr. Halloway points out that being good is a difficult thing. Often those who are happiest are full of sin and those who are sad may be good. He tells his son that he must learn to see whose happiness really covers up guilt. To be happy or sad is a disposition, but to be good, one must work hard. The two things are completely different. Learning this is important for Will, because he is growing up but also because very soon after his father tells him this he will need the ability to judge for himself who is good and who is evil. This conversation occurs after Will makes Mr. Cooger into an extremely old man. Will learns not to privilege the happy man but to respect the good man. An evil person may be happy, and a good person may be sad, but in the novel, it is whether someone is good or evil in the end that matters. Mr. Halloway helps his son learn what is important about people and what is not.