The Late George Apley argues that provincial conservatism traps the very elitists who devote themselves most single-mindedly to preserving the status quo. George Apley's devotion to maintaining Boston social tradition results from his position as representative of a typical Brahmin family. As such, he works to defeat such signs of creeping socialism as "income tax and old age insurance," as well as such aberrations as electric signs around Boston Common and the Harvard Business School. The pattern to which Apley adheres includes graduation from Harvard, marriage to a childhood friend, membership in Boston clubs, and bringing up one's children in precisely the same mold. Through the naive irony of his own narrative, Apley emerges as foolish, sexually repressed, a figure of fun to his enemies, and an occasional embarrassment to his friends, as he surrenders his chances for vitality to his unthinking commitment to the pattern.