It turns out that the lady’s look into the future was on the money. Wilbur and Isabel only had one child, a son who is always called “Georgie.” That nickname makes the boy sound like a child, and that is how he acts for almost his whole life. He is considered a “terror” by the residents, as he gets into fights with other children, and curses and hits their parents. He is like Fitzgerald’s reckless rich, riding carelessly through town. He has long hair and wears a kilt-like skirt as a youth, which gives him an effeminate appearance, possibly emphasizing that he is, and will continue to be, a “mama’s boy.” He is actually called a “would-be dude.”
Wilbur has suffered failures in his business ventures, and is experiencing ill health, probably as a result of his misfortunes. Isabels’ marriage to him has been suffering, and that is why she now is excited to see Eugene again. Since he drank too much earlier in life, Eugene will no longer indulge in alcohol consumption. He has moved up in the world, and is now a successful businessman. But, he is an inventor, and he has developed a new version of the automobile. He represents change. Georgie, of course, scoffs at this look into the future. Someone says it is like “old times” with Eugene’s return. But the inventor sees this reliving the past as an impossibility. He says, “When times are gone, they’re not old, they’re dead. There aren’t any times but new times.” The new times have changed the world order, and now we find Ambersons pursuing Morgans. We also discover that Georgie’s Aunt Fanny (Agnes Moorehead) has always had a crush on Morgan, which adds to this reversal of fortune on the part of the Morgans.
We have a merry scene with members of both families singing at their outing which then shifts to a sad one where we view a mourning wreath on the Amberson door (the doorway, where Eugene’s advances toward Isabel were refused, and where he again is later turned away, becomes symbolic, as it reflects the fate of the Ambersons and Morgans). Wilbur has succumbed to his illness. We start to sense a change in the Amberson estate when we hear that all that Wilbur left his wife was some insurance. Georgie may initially appear mournful, but is later shown acting like a gluttonous child as Fanny feeds him while pumping him for information about his mother and Eugene. Georgie was not happy about Eugene accompanying Isabel to his college. The youth’s condescension is unashamedly overt, as he says that Eugene is so low on the social order in his mind that he is “beneath himself.”
We have a scene where Lucy rides with Georgie in a carriage (not a car, of course). He wants to talk about the possibility of their marriage. She does not, and does say that he still should have some sort of professional plans. The best that he offers is the he will work with charities and belong to movements, acting like a “gentleman.” He offers nothing specific, showing no passion to really help. He just says what he believes is the way a person in his exalted station in life should act. He says that he does not see himself peeling potatoes or arguing a legal case. That is because he hasn’t had to do any work, expecting others to provide those services. He has had a free ride. Lucy does admit that her father would like to see Georgie choose a profession. The young man’s response is a bit contradictory. He says that he wouldn’t be much of a man if he let someone else dictate what he should do. But, he is willing to play the part that his family’s station in life has prescribed for him.
Right after his mother’s decision, Georgie runs into Lucy in town. She admits that she hasn’t been in touch with Georgie because she says that they had been acting like little children, playing at being in love. She is ready (as a Morgan) to move on. He, obviously, is not ready for that. He tells her that he will be leaving with his mother and this meeting could be their last. She acts cheerful, and wishes him a nice trip. Her lack of feeling of loss disturbs him greatly. But, we then see that Lucy’s cheerfulness is just a false front, and she goes into a store looking for the equivalent of smelling salts, after which she faints.
Jack Amberson (Ray Collins) returns from a trip to Europe and says that his sister, Isabel, was ill. But, Georgie does not want her to return home. After they do return home, the family still prevents Eugene from seeing the gravely ill Isabel. Even as she is about to die, Isabel still is indulging her son, asking if he ate something and if he was catching a cold. She asks if Eugene had visited. Georgie is honest and says that he had. Isabel’s regret is that she could not have seen him once more. Her decision to live in the past and not to move ahead with Eugene destroys her.
The patriarch of the family, Major Amberson (Richard Bennett) had ruminated about how the progress of the town was rolling over him and burying him. After Isabel’s death, his family’s fortune depleted, he says that all his business dealings were a trifling and a waste. He has a terrifying look into the future, where he fears the Amberson name will not even be remembered. Now, no streetcar bothers to stop at the doorway of the once exalted Amberson home. Uncle Jack, now financially broke, at the train station tells Georgie about an old romance, and how he said goodbye to her at the station. In one’s memory, she is frozen in his mind, and probably he is in hers. Only in memories can the forward marching of time be halted, and the magnificence of the Ambersons remain intact. As his train is about to leave, where it will take him to a new job, Jack says that they all thought Georgie was such a terror that he should be hanged.