George Willard leaves Winesburg to go make his way in the big city. Several people see him off at the station, but Helen White is too late to wish him farewell. He thinks of mundane things as he waits for the train to pull out of the station. The conductor, who has seen many young men starting off on this journey, says nothing to George about what an important day this is.
This is a rather hopeful ending for a text that has not been terribly optimistic. George is off to make his fortune in the world, but he can only do so alone, by saying goodbye to all his human connections. He is impatient with the people there to see him off, because this is his adventure, not theirs. In the final moment, he is a metaphor for everyone's lives; we are all alone on the train of existence, and any connection we make with others is destined to be fleeting.
Winesburg, Ohio: Novel Summary: Departure