This man is at the door of Hell...somehow it seems to be his destination after a life of subtle stubbornness. He doesn't expect to find himself waking up out of a dream...he doesn't expect to pinch himself and wake up and that kind of thing...in fact, the thought of that happening makes him smile. He's just mildly surprised to find himself there at the door of Hell.
To all accounts, the kindly old man who is the doorman (and who conceivably reminds him of his father) is sat reading a book...but he gets up smartly and without time for either of them to feel that they're standing on ceremony says, "Hold my book for a minute, would you, while i get the door open!" (Presumably, you know, you need two hands to open the door.) For some reason the old man doesn't just put his book down on the chair
It all happens quite quickly...he finds that he's made a decision and is already holding the old man's book...as just about anybody else would have, But it seems a bit curious because...in however small a way you like to consider it...it is as if he's helping himself enter Hell...the path of least resistance. Of course, at the same time he suddenly thinks..Even as he finally grips the book..."This is my chance for a reprieve...the final test...the straw which will tip the good deeds over the bad."
Next thing he knows, they have exchanged opinions on the book and he has handed it back to the old man and is being shown into Hell.