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George Bailey is the personification of all of our demons and better angels

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One of the best things about this season is that, invariably, someone writes about It’s A Wonderful Life, and muses on the complex, sometimes dark character of George Bailey.

Portrayed so perfectly by the perpetually likable James Stewart, it is easy to miss the fact that George Bailey is not a simple and good-natured cornpone from upstate New York; he is a man whose heart and faith are essential to him, because they balance out a real bitterness that shows itself in little ways. A man who has had to cast aside every dream in order to do “the right thing,” Bailey is — thanks to an old injury — denied even dubious adventure of soldiering during World War II. Watch him spit in disdain at himself and his situation, after he has responsibly handled a blackout drill in his neighborhood. When the big man from the small town comes beeping by in a slick, shiny car with a shinier woman, see George Bailey’s lip curl, not because his wife is wearing a baseball cap and sitting in his old clunker, but because she is so clearly content with the cap, and the clunker, and with comfortable, sacrificing, trapped old George, who always wanted so much more. He adores his wife; he wants what she wants, but why doesn’t she want more?

Read more at Aleteia.org…

 

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