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MonkeyNotes-Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson-Free Study Guide
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STORY 22 - 'DEPARTURE'

SETTING

The setting is at the Winesburg railway station, in Winesburg, Ohio.

CHARACTER LIST

George Willard - The young reporter who has finally decided to leave Winesburg, and go in search of better prospects and a brighter future in the world.


CONFLICT

Protagonist - George is the protagonist, since his departure from his hometown has been described.

Antagonist - There is no antagonistic character in this story.

Climax - There is no particularly climactic scene in the story. George takes leave of his father and the onlookers who have come to bid him goodbye and then he climbs up on to the train.

Outcome - In his happiness of leaving for better prospects, he even forgets to lookout for Helen White, who has come to see him for the last time. George closes his eyes, thinking of his life in Winesburg. When he opens them, he finds that the train has sped away, and Winesburg is no more to be seen.

THEMES

The theme of leaving in search of better prospects and a brighter future has been described.

MOOD

The mood is not heaving with emotions as expected. George is happy to leave with his happy memories intact. The atmosphere is glad and expectant. The reader feels a twinge of sorrow on seeing George leave without a backward glance, even at Helen White. The ending takes place with a sense of stored joy in the future.

SHORT SUMMARY

George Willard wakes up from his sleep, early in the morning. His bag is already packed and he is all set. George has decided to leave Winesburg, his hometown, and go out into the world to seek adventures and his own fortune.

When he reaches the railway platform he finds many of his folks out there, come to bid him farewell. George is embarrassed at this display of affection. When the train arrives, he scampers in and doesn't even notice Helen White who had come to have a parting word with him. Already, George has left his town in his mind and is ready for any adventure awaiting him. His father Tom Willard's last words of caution are to be careful with his money.

George closes his eyes as the train speeds away. He thinks of his dream and the adventures waiting for him and when he opens his eyes, the town of Winesburg has already disappeared.

Notes

This final story relates the going away of George Willard. George who has lived his life in the small town of Winesburg and experienced his entire adolescent dreams here, is now ready to try his wings and set out to make all his dreams a reality. His departure has saddened the townsfolk. Even the stern lady, who used to never speak to George, bids him good luck. George however is eager to leave. His youth makes him impervious to the sadness of leaving his beloved hometown. Such is the callousness of youth that he doesn't even look out for Helen White, his childhood sweetheart who has come to bid farewell to him.

The uncertainties of life that awaits him in his future do not bother him. His past is just a set of pictures which cross his mind, as he closes his eyes.

The disappearance of Winesburg as the train rolls past is the final curtain call for all of George's childhood days. It is now only a background on which he is going to paint the dreams of his manhood.

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

George - George is no more the gay young reporter, flitting around the town, in search of new items. He believes he has a future stored away in the city and he wishes to peek into it. The story is a befitting end to the various tales of the people of inhabitants and especially George in particular. George knows that his memories of Winesburg will never leave him and so he has no regrets or sorrow in leaving his beloved hometown. The people of the town also bid him luck for his bright future.

PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

The story begins with George’s decision to leave Winesburg. Helen comes to see him off but he doesn’t see her. The outcome is noticed by George’s lack of interest in Helen now, as he is keener in looking forward to a new future ahead of him.

The story is a virtual ending for the entire book. All the various inhabitants of Winesburg have been described and their individual habits, vices, and problems have been deliberated upon. Among all of them, George is a common feature. This story ends his story too, with a hope that he would succeed in his future endeavor. In the last scene, the last glimpse of the Winesburg town is symbolic of the final farewell to the town in the book too.

THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS

The theme of departing from one's hometown in search of better prospects in the outside world has been depicted. Man has to accept the fact that he might outgrow his hometown, then it becomes a necessity to move on into the wider world. This theme has been related through the life of George Willard, who has spent most of his younger days in Winesburg. He has even worked there as a reporter in his youth. But now he needs to explore further and hence his decision to leave Winesburg. He has no feelings of undue remorse in this decision, and takes his leave with no ostensible sorrow or grief.

STUDY QUESTIONS

Why is George content in leaving his hometown?

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