In Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, the main character of the book is George Willard. George Willard is a reporter for the local newspaper, the Winesburg Eagle. When first looking at the book, one would think that George is a flat character, but after looking back through, one may discover that George Willard is as round as a character can get.
George Willard has the ability to make friends with people in Winesburg that other people don't associate with, and ends up bringing out the best in them. For example, when George befriends Wing Biddlebaum, he is able to draw Wing out of his shell and understand partially why he is always keeping to himself. "There's something wrong, but I don't want to know what it is. His hands have something to do with his fear of me and of everyone" (11). Another that George is able to communicate with is Doctor Parcival, a crazy old man that showed up in Winesburg about five years ago. He would talk all day to George about his travels and life (22).
George Willard grows in the book by some of his experiences with women, such as Louise Trunnion and Kate Swift. When George was seeing Louise, it was because he had received a letter saying, `"I'm yours if you want me."' When George had arrived at Louise's house, he was greeted by, `"How do you know I want to go out with you,' she said sulkily. `What makes you so sure?"' He was upset and confused by the situation, but Louise still went out with him (28). When it came to Kate Swift though, George was somewhat better off due to the fact that she also had feelings for George. "He took a pillow into his arms and embraced it thinking first of the school teacher, who by her words had stirred something within him . . ." (86). After spending time with Kate, he realized that she is a woman, and he is a man.
" She was a teacher but she was also a woman. As she looked at George Willard,
the passionate desire to be loved by a man, that had a thousand times before swept like a storm over her body, took possession of her. In the lamplight George Willard looked no longer a boy, but a man ready to play the part of a man."
Something snaps inside Kate Swift and she erupts into a violent fit striking George, and leaving him alone and confused (90-91).
At first glance, George doesn't make any moral choices, but when you look back, you realize that he does by standing up for someone. When George Willard is talking to Seth Richmond, he asks Seth to go talk to Helen White for him. `"I've been trying to write a love story, . . . I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to fall in love. I've been sitting here and thinking it over and I'm going to do it"' (73). Seth is irritated with this rash statement, but nothing else happens. Later on when George meets Tom Foster, Tom is drunk, and saying things about Helen that George knows is not true. "The drunken boy talked of Helen White and said he had been with her on the shore of a sea and had made love to her. George had seen Helen White walking in the street with her father during the evening." Hearing Tom Foster talk about Helen like that infuriated George and told him, "I won't let Helen White's name be dragged into this. I won't let that happen" (121).
George Willard is an emotionally deep person; he just doesn't always show it.
When Aunt Elizabeth Swift comes to watch over the body of Elizabeth Willard, George breaks down and lets the realization that his mother has passed, sink in. "He put his hand into hers and began to sob, shaking his head from side to side, half blind with grief. `My mother is dead,' he said,"' (129).
George Willard is a round main character and should be recognized as such.