Our Town

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George Gibbs Character Analysis

George is one of the main characters of the play. We see him as a young man, a (still young) groom, and a grieving husband who has lost his wife Emily. George is kind and well-meaning, and is very talented at baseball. He works on his uncle’s farm after graduating high school, deciding not to go to agricultural school in order to stay in Grover’s Corners with Emily. When he marries Emily, he is nervous about growing up and wishes that he could remain a “fella” forever with his baseball teammates. However, he gets over these fears and marries Emily happily. He last appears in the play grieving at Emily’s grave in the cemetery, at the end of the play.

George Gibbs Quotes in Our Town

The Our Town quotes below are all either spoken by George Gibbs or refer to George Gibbs. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Theater Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Perennial edition of Our Town published in 2003.
Act 1 Quotes

I never told you about that letter Jane Crofut got from her minister when she was sick. He wrote Jane a letter and on the envelope the address was like this: It said: Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover’s Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America.

What’s funny about that?

But listen, it’s not finished; the United States of America; Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Rebecca Gibbs (speaker)
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

The peculiar nature of the letter George and Rebecca are discussing lies within the extensiveness of its address. Like a Russian nesting doll, it lists each community-- from Crofut Farm to the USA, to the Universe and finally, unto the Mind of God-- as parts of something continuously larger. 

This chain of communities within communities, in which places as small as a farm give way to the largeness of hemispheres and solar systems, reiterates the importance of the ordinary and the everyday. Although a town as plain as Grover's Corners may seem infinitesimal in the grand scheme of the world and universe at large, in fact, it is this plainness which, bit by bit, builds the world at large. 

Thus, the residents of Grover's Corners are justified in their value for the ordinary. The ordinary is essential-- too often taken for granted, it is the building block of all we consider extraordinary.  

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Act 2 Quotes

Don’t you misunderstand me, my boy. Marriage is a wonderful thing,—wonderful thing. And don’t you forget that, George.

Related Characters: Mr. Webb (speaker), George Gibbs
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

At the surface, Mr. Webb's endorsement of the institution of marriage to his future son-in-law follows suit with the traditional values and teachings of Grover's Corners. 

Yet, beneath the surface of the endorsement, the words seem more like an act of persuasion than they are purely reassuring to George. After explaining the bleaker truths of what marriage includes, Mr. Webb wants George not to misunderstand the fact that it is nonetheless wonderful. 

Whether this is in earnest, or whether Mr. Webb is trying to reassure himself of marriage's wonders after so many years of being married, is unclear, but also unimportant in the scheme of tradition—marriage is the way of life in Grover's Corners. Wonderful or not, there is no alternative. 

George, I was thinking the other night of some advice my father gave me when I got married. Charles, he said, Charles, start out early showing who’s boss, he said. Best thing to do is give an order, even if it don’t make sense; just so she’ll learn to obey. [...]

Well, Mr. Webb... I don’t think I could...

So I took the opposite of my father’s advice and I’ve been happy ever since.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Mr. Webb (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

After they get over the initial superstition of a groom not seeing his father-in-law before the wedding, Mr. Webb is giving George not only uplifting advice about marriage, but also advice about the occasional benefits of breaking from tradition. 

When Mr. Webb introduces his initial advice with the tag "some advice my father gave me," we get the sense that what is going to be said next is an important legacy and tradition, as it is now being passed on to the third generation. 

However, when we come to hear this traditional advice, which promotes gender inequality and female subjugation in marriage, both the audience and George, who expresses his uncertainty over Mr. Webb's words, quickly see that the traditional advice is obsolete and damaging. 

Mr. Webb, who reassures George he took the opposite of his father's misogynistic advice, clearly also understands this. His advice to George, therefore, is not only how to properly treat a woman, but also the suggestion that it's okay to break from traditions that aren't worth keeping. Even in the town of Grover's Corners, there does exist some room for growth and change.

It certainly seems like being away three years you’d get out of touch with things. Maybe letters from Grover’s Corners wouldn’t be so interesting after a while. Grover’s Corners isn’t a very important place when you think of all—New Hampshire; but I think it’s a very nice town.

The day wouldn’t come when I wouldn’t want to know everything that’s happening here. I know that’s true, Emily.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Emily Webb (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Upon George bringing up the possibility of his attending the State Agriculture College and asking Emily to write him letters while he's at school in New Hampshire, Emily expresses her concern that the time he will be away from Grover's Corners will make letters from her obsolete anyways. Because the lifestyle here is both ordinary and insular, Emily fears that in three years away, George will broaden his horizons and worldliness and effectively lose interest in life in Grover's Corners.

Even Emily, for all her loyalty and rootedness to the town, concedes that when "you think of it all"—all being the wider world—Grover's Corners "isn't a very important place." 

George's response—he will always want to hear about Grovers Corners—indicates he hasn't lost sight of the importance of the town, and that he isn't taking for granted its quiet ordinariness (although that's not to say that this feeling will last when he moves away). In the grand scheme of things, it is easy to lose sight of how important even the smallest of towns are, and yet, part of what the play aims to convey audiences is that nothing is unimportant. 

And, like you say, being gone all that time... in other places and meeting other people... Gosh, if anything like that can happen I don’t want to go away. I guess new people aren’t any better than old ones. I’ll bet they almost never are. Emily... I feel that you’re as good a friend as I’ve got. I don’t need to go and meet the people in other towns.

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Emily Webb
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

After Emily confronts George for his recent negative character changes and the growing distance in their friendship, he confides in her the fact that, despite all the places his career might take him, she and her longstanding friendship are enough for him: he doesn't need to see more of the world. In her—and in Grover's Corners—he has all he needs. 

On one level, this sentiment may seem naive or narrow-minded on George's part. After all, to feel as only a teenager that you've already seen everything you need to see is to limit yourself, to dismiss everything the world at large might offer you. 

And yet, there is also a startling maturity to George's words. Rather than spend his life searching for better people and places, he stubbornly values what he has, what is ordinary. In contrast to those who, constantly unfulfilled, spend—and ultimately waste—their lives looking for "the next best thing," he has already found it at home. By his teenage years, he has already learned what not to take for granted. 

Ma, I don’t want to grow old. Why’s everybody pushing me so?

Related Characters: George Gibbs (speaker), Mrs. Gibbs
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, a soon-to-be-married George mirrors his bride-to-be's reluctance towards their impending wedding. Asides from the significance of marriage as a town tradition, and as one of life's milestones, it represents in many ways maturation and sacrifice. Though still young, George's youthful chapter is closing in on him quickly. 

And yet, it is somewhat inconsequential whether or not George does not want to grow old. Time is out of his control in the same way it is out of everyone's, and the changes it brings—in George's case, the transition from a young, schoolboy type into a married family man—must therefore be embraced rather than resisted. Though George's mother, in whom he is confiding in these lines, has her own reservations about marriage, she and the others whom George thinks are pushing him are also more experienced. They know, as George perhaps does not, that time and change is unavoidable, even in Grover's Corners. 

And George over there, looking so ...! I hate him. I wish I were dead. Papa! Papa!

Emily! Emily! Now don’t get upset...

But, Papa,—I don’t want to get married....

Sh—sh—Emily. Everything’s all right.

Why can’t I stay for a while just as I am?

Related Characters: Emily Webb (speaker), Mr. Webb (speaker), George Gibbs
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

This conversation between Emily and her father about her doubts about marrying George is a saddening example of the stubbornness of tradition in Grover's Corners. 

Although doubts are arguably part of the marriage process, Emily's strong reluctance feels ostensibly deeper than nervousness. However, because marriage is the traditional way of Grover's Corners, Mr. Webb hushes his daughter's sentiments and reassures her that "Everything's all right." In this instance, maintaining order and tradition almost feels more critical than what Emily's true feelings are. 

In addition to the stubbornness of tradition, Emily's question to her father, "Why can't I stay for a while just as I am?" is one of the few moments in the play that someone does not take the moments in his or her life for granted. Here, Emily wants to linger in the moment of her life before marriage, this moment of freedom and youth. And with the later knowledge of her death, her self-awareness in this quote takes a dark, ominous tone. 

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George Gibbs Character Timeline in Our Town

The timeline below shows where the character George Gibbs appears in Our Town. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...for their children to come to breakfast. Mrs. Gibbs tells Dr. Gibbs that their son George has not been helping with chores around the house lately. Mrs. Gibbs calls after her... (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...households, Mrs. Webb tells her children not to eat too quickly, while Mrs. Gibbs tells George she’ll speak to Dr. Gibbs about possibly raising his allowance. The kids finish breakfast and... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...afternoon, kids have just gotten out of school, and Mr. Webb is mowing his lawn. George and Emily come back to their homes from school. George compliments Emily on an impressive... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
George goes off to the baseball field, leaving Emily to speak with Mrs. Webb. Emily asks... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
...That Binds.” This is the local church choir, directed by Simon Stimson. Meanwhile, Emily and George are “upstairs” in their respective rooms (symbolized on-stage by their being up in two ladders).... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...the same music they did for the last wedding they sang at. Dr. Gibbs calls George downstairs and asks him what he wants to do once he graduates from high school.... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Dr. Gibbs asks if George will be willing to do all the chores and work around the farm, since he... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
George goes back upstairs as Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Webb, and Mrs. Soames come on-stage, returning from... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...their doors at night. Dr. Gibbs says that those people are, unfortunately, “getting citified.” Upstairs, George and Rebecca are talking in his room. The stage manager tells the audience that it... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
Upstairs in the Gibbs home, Rebecca tells George about a letter her friend received with the address, “Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover’s... (full context)
Act 2
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...newspaper in Grover’s Corners. Si says it’s too bad that the town’s best baseball player, George Gibbs, is giving up baseball to get married. Constable Warren enters and talks with Si... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Howie delivers some milk to Mrs. Gibbs and offers his best wishes for George’s wedding. He delivers milk to the Webb household and tells Mrs. Webb that George and... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...perfectly awful things,” and “farces.” The two talk more about how strange it feels for George to be marrying already, but Mrs. Gibbs comments that “people are meant to go through... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
George comes downstairs and tells his parents that he is heading over to the Webb household.... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
After a long, awkward silence, George and Mr. Webb talk about the wedding. George says he wishes they didn’t have to... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
...order, even if it don’t make sense; just so she’ll learn to obey.” He tells George that he did exactly the opposite of what his father told him and has had... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Mrs. Webb returns and tells George to leave so Emily can come eat breakfast. The stage manager then interrupts and tells... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Emily and George talk, and George offers to carry Emily’s books. He asks her why she has been... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Emily and George enter the local drugstore, where the stage manager plays Mr. Morgan, the owner of the... (full context)
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
George and Emily have ice cream sodas. George tells her that he is thankful to have... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
George says that he has heard from some farmers that agricultural school is a waste of... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
George tells Emily that he is glad that she spoke to him about his conceitedness and... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
Community Theme Icon
George offers to walk Emily home, but embarrassingly doesn’t have any money on him to pay... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
As George walks toward the altar, a group of baseball players from his team whistles and teases... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...the Tie That Binds.” Mr. Webb tries to comfort Emily, who says that she hates George and wishes she were dead. She asks why she can’t “stay for a while just... (full context)
Marriage and the Family Theme Icon
Mr. Webb asks George if he will take care of his daughter. George tells Emily he loves her and... (full context)
The Theater Theme Icon
The Everyday and the Ordinary Theme Icon
...performed hundreds of marriages, and that “once in a thousand times it’s interesting.” Newly married, George and Emily leave looking happy. The stage manager announces that the second act is finished. (full context)
Act 3
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...of his cousin and Joe says she died in childbirth. The funeral procession arrives, including George, Dr. Gibbs, and Mr. and Mrs. Webb. Mrs. Soames asks who died, and Mrs. Gibbs... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
Mrs. Soames recalls Emily and George’s wedding and how intelligent Emily was in school. A group at the funeral sings “Blessed... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...be more and more difficult. Mrs. Webb makes Emily breakfast and shows her a present George brought her earlier that morning. Emily tries to tell her mother all about the future,... (full context)
Time, Change, and Continuity Theme Icon
...the light from stars to reach earth, which the anonymous dead man found incredible. Meanwhile, George walks into the cemetery and kneels before Emily’s grave in grief, much to the disapproval... (full context)