This is the realm of those who died violent deaths. At the last moment, they repented asking for mercy from Christ or Mary.
Note: those in hell are unrepentant. Hence their being in Hell. Whereas those in Purgatory have repented. No matter how egregious a sin, if one repents–turns away from their sin, goes the other direction, God has mercy.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy mercy; according to the multitude of thy kindness blot out my iniquity.”
Those souls in this realm sing this. And when they see Dante, they are fascinated that he is still alive–is whole body and soul. No light passes through him.
Those dead long to be whole souls. They are incomplete without their bodies. They are bodies; they are souls. They are not ghosts in machines. We are not such things. These souls long for wholeness and wish to speak to Dante. Wanting to be remembered when they were once alive. Telling of their late repentance and longing for the face of God.
They see Dante and are compelled to speak with him. Hope springing within them that one day soon, they will be whole and in complete presence of God. Likewise, a hope springs in Dante’s heart that no matter our sins, God is merciful. Although, this is probably a reflection of my own heart. Hope springs within me when reading Purgatory. A hope to be remade, to be made whole. That God is merciful and loving and purifies us by his consuming fire of love.
We are a violent, fickle, straying people. But God offers forgiveness and when we repent, God has mercy on us and spurs us on toward the good by His grace.