If George is not the "all-American" boy, he at least represents the typical American boy. In the first scenes, he is scolded for throwing soap at his sister. Even though he does not deserve it, he wangles a raise in his allowance. Later, he has difficulty with algebra. He uses his boyish charms to convince his intelligent neighbor, Emily, to help him. His invention of a communication system between their houses assures him that help is close at hand.
Later, in Act II, George — Si Crowell's personal hero — is elected president of his senior class. It is likely that his selection is based on superficial traits — such as his prowess on the pitching mound or his personality — rather than his intellectual excellence or leadership qualities. Thus, his inclination toward rowdiness, his love of the all-American game of baseball, and his position as class officer characterize him as the stereotypical small-town American boy.
Also predictable is the fact that he is obsessed with baseball to the exclusion of friends. His thoughts, however, have not strayed completely from Emily. He has thought about her enough to realize the depth of his attraction to her. The drugstore scene captures the emotion of high-school students exploring love. To heighten the poignance of the scene, Wilder breaks the spell abruptly so that George can hurry home to get money to pay the bill.
George's ambition and desire to skip college in order to take over his uncle's farm suggest a certain practicality, although current thought might indicate that he is reaching for short-term goals at the expense of long-term preparation for a richer, more secure life. Later, the scenes before the wedding capture the immaturity of young grooms. Fortunately, George's fears of growing old are temporary. As soon as he sees Emily, he recognizes the strength of his love for her and willingly plunges into adulthood.
George's role in the last act is small, yet intensely effective. He has succeeded as a farmer. Coming at night to Emily's grave, he demonstrates his deep and sincere love for her. By throwing himself abjectly across the newly dug grave, he expresses without words his devotion to the woman who has been the center of his life.
George functions in the play as a representative American. In Act I, rather than create a distinct individual, Wilder spotlights traits characteristic of youth in general. Even as an adult, George is an ordinary man performing ordinary tasks. Yet, with one silent action, he rises to a respectable height in Act III by his moving response to Emily's death.