Like many people created by Hopper, the viewer cannot know precisely what is happening with the figure in the painting. Perhaps he is actively watching something on the other side of the window.
Maybe he sees someone through a window in the building across the way, or something taking place on the street below. He may be lost in a daydream, observing nothing at all, but passively staring through the window, as he contemplates what is happening in his life.
He could be bored, or overwhelmed by the work that sits in front of him.
It is characteristic of Edward Hopper's work to not only craft a compelling scene of everyday scenes of authentic American life, but to portray them in such a way as to leave the viewer with enough questions to form their own narrative of what is taking place within the painting.
Office in a Small City is among the most notable works of Edward Hopper, along with Nighthawks, Chop Suey, and Hotel Lobby. His paintings have had an undeniable influence in the art world, inspiring fellow painters such as Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, as well as several others in various art fields.
Musicians like Tom Waits, and film directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Wim Wenders, among many others, show a strong Hopper influence in their work.
Office in a Small City, like all of Hopper's paintings, prove his talent as a profound visual storyteller, using a mere snapshot of ordinary American life.