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This part of Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist has been troubling me for a few days.

The trip is everything to elevator inspectors—the bumps and shudders, not the banalities of departure and destination—and if the radio waves must first amble from the reporters’ microphones to the receiver atop the WCAM Building and dally there a bit before returning (nearly) to the humble spot of their nativity, so much the better. The intrinsic circuitousness of inspecting appeases certain dustier quarters of her and her colleagues’ mentalities, the very neighborhoods, it turns out, where the key and foundational character deficits reside. Nobody’s quite up to investigating those localities, or prepared to acknowledge or remark upon them anyway; to do so would lead to instructive, yes, but no doubt devastating revelations about their jobs, about themselves. They’re that important.

I guess the bolded "they" refers to "certain dustier quarters", "the very neighborhoods" and "those localities" where no elevator inspector wants to explore directly. But then, it doesn't make sense to me that "they are that important" since everyone is circuitous to them.

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The narrator is saying that the job and act of inspection "appeases certain dustier quarters" of the inspectors' mentalities, quarters where the key and foundational character deficits reside. Actually examining those fundamental character deficits (investigating those localities) would help the inspectors understand why the job of elevator inspections is so satisfying to them. But asking what emotional needs the job meets would mean bringing the deficits in their lives out into the open. While instructive, such self-reflection would show that the satisfaction they take in their job is related to, perhaps compensating for, some lack in their emotional make-up. It would lead to devastating revelations about their jobs, about themselves. So the inspectors avoid such introspection.

The they in They're that important refers to the locus of the character deficits. The quarters, neighborhoods, and localities are psychological, not geographical in nature.

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