Told in a series of letters, this story is best read as a comic novel. If one reads it as anything else, one will detest the main character for his judgmental nature and preoccupation with himself. George Apley lives his entire life trying to present the best image possible to the public. As a result, he engages in laughable criticism of his own young grandson for having "definite limitations of activity and thought," and becoming embroiled in a hilarious situation involving the requested exhumation of a relative from a cemetery plot.
The narrator, if this makes any sense, name-drops his own name several times and inserts himself into the story repeatedly.
Toward the end, one letter is included in this collection that causes the reader to believe that George Apley is much more reflective than originally thought. However, his observations are dismissed by the narrator as the result of illness. You'll have to decide for yourself whether Apley is simply pretentious or a caricature of society.