As a recurring character in Sherwood Anderson's anthology of short stories Winesburg, Ohio, George Willard is a small-town boy who seeks a broader life experience than Winesburg can offer.
As "Departure" opens, the season is spring and the time is dawn: two aspects of a symbolic time-setting that implies that George's existence is undergoing rebirth. The narrator notes that, as George's father carries George's bag to the railway station, "the son had become taller than the father." This observation is meant to imply that George has outgrown his father's life in their small town and is destined for something more.
The narrator describes George as "going out of his town to meet the adventure of life," and when he looks out the window of his train car, "the town of Winesburg had disappeared and his life there had become but a background on which to paint the dreams of his manhood."
To fully understand George Willard's reasons for leaving Winesburg, another story in the collection, "
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