Unlike most other powerful people in Savannah, Jim Williams did not come from money. He worked to achieve his current status of wealth, and he explained to Berendt, the narrator, that he is "nouveau riche." He does not fit within the tradition of Savannah despite the fact that he is a prominent figure in their society.
Jim Williams was known to be gay, even though it was still taboo to be open about it at the time. While this was not the reason for his prominence in Savannah, it made people in his social circles feel very progressive that they could accept such a person, even though his popularity came through his financial power rather than his personality.
Savannah is consistently remarked as an isolated, yet unique city of the South. Its residents are friendly, going with the stereotype of Southern hospitality. On the other hand, there is Jim Williams who, for his well-known Christmas parties, keeps an exclusive invite list. He is known for having a large stack of index cards with the names of people who will not be invited. This is a testament to how isolated Williams, like the city of Savannah, prefers to be.