With the exception of the minister, all of the good characters in this film are seeking contrition. They have done something wrong or think they have something they have to make up for.
This best represented in one of the conversations between the doctor and the minister when the doctor says he should never have brought his wife to the town, and the minister comforts him and says he can still make things right.
Those who do not seek to make things right, who refuse to seek contrition are doomed – such as the villain who beats up Jake seeking to locate the gold Jake stole.
“The demons took it, and when you get to hell, you can get it back,” Jack tells him.
The minister, who is the moral center of this film, gives each instruction on how to be saved: first you have to recognize what you did, and then not let God do all the work in making it right.
The price of redemption is often high. In most cases, it is losing that person most dear to them – such as the old military man who didn’t appreciate the boy who was most like a son to him until that son died.
Even the sheriff has to make something right, making up for the death of his daughter by trying to raise his grandson.
In some cases, the character’s crime against society is marginal and they see their loved on restored, as in the case of the doctor. The military man loses an Indian son to get back a son he largely neglected.
But for Jake, his crimes against society were far too great for him to see his lost loved on returned, while he ends up on the right moral side, he must suffer the same loss twice, and must wander the world alone – even though he has done what was necessary to make things right.