George has a brooding, vulnerable James Dean thing going for him, which, we imagine, probably contributes to Lucy’s fascination with him. Yes, he’s sulky and sometimes quite difficult, but hey, it’s hot in Rebel Without a Cause, so why shouldn’t it be here, too? Raised to truly be his father’s son, George doesn’t believe in anything that comes with the social contract – that is, he’s not into religion, or political correctness, or saying things he doesn’t mean. He does believe in Fate, and wonders what his own is. He’s clearly looking for meaning in life, as his father notes, and when we meet him, he’s discontented and confused.
George’s love for Lucy, which explodes into passionate being in Italy, then is renewed when he sees her at the Sacred Lake and provides him with that meaning he was looking for. All of a sudden, we see a new George – radiant, passionate, and much more talkative. His confession of love for Lucy reveals him to be a good judge of character (he sees right through Cecil), and, like his father, a believer in the power of true love. However, when she sends him away, he “goes under” into depression (or so we assume) – again, he’s lost the meaning and purpose that gave him such vibrant charisma.
Fortunately, though, Mr. Emerson makes Lucy see that she’s really in love with his son. When at last we see George again in Chapter Twenty, we get our first in-depth look into his mind; he’s totally, blissfully happy for the first time, and we actually see him become something of an optimist. His suggestion that Charlotte listened to his plea and actually helped the two young people find each other again gives us hope for the future of the society Forster depicts – if someone as immovable and conventional as Charlotte can show some vestige of sympathy, so can anyone.