George often goes to see Belle Carpenter, a young milliner who lives with her father Henry, a bookkeeper in the local bank. Belle is in love with the bartender Ed Handby, even though they have only spent one evening in each other's company. Belle walks in the evenings with George as an outlet for her passion for the other man. She even allows George to kiss her.
One night in January, George goes out for a walk and has an epiphany. He realizes that all people are connected through laws and a supreme order. He himself, he believes, must become more a part of that great connection. He finds himself moved by powerful words that he utters: "death,. night, the sea, fear, loveliness" (185). He goes to find Belle to tell her about his thoughts, but she just wants to make Ed jealous. When they go to a secluded spot to embrace, Ed shows up and tosses George aside. He does not want to beat George up; he just wants him out of the way. He does this three times, as George tries to charge the older man again and again. Then, Ed leaves with Belle and George is left with no more grand thoughts.
George thinks that all men are connected by the ideas expressed by some brave words. But, the fact is, that there is no great order in which he is important. To Belle and Ed, he is just a nuisance. They are not bound together by great ideas. The other two people are in love, and George is meaningless to them. Because he is immature, George has not come to be obsessed by one idea or another, which means he is not yet a grotesque. But, as he flounders and tries to find a truth to attach himself to, he is absurd in his desire to grow up by adhering to one truth or another. This means there is not much hope for people, who either mature and become grotesques as their search for meaning hardens into belief in a set of ideas or are perpetually immature, like Enoch.
Winesburg, Ohio: Novel Summary: An Awakening