Flannery O'Connor: Everything That Rises Must Converge

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In Everything That Rises Must Converge, Flannery O’Connor places the broad societal conflict of race relations and racial tensions within the context of the volatile relationship between Julain and his mother, comparing and contrasting generational and societal conflictions. While Julian sees his mother and himself as nothing alike, on opposite ends of the spectrum concerning racial issues such as integration and acceptance, it’s quite clear to the reader that Julian and his mother are far more similar than it would appear at first, or even second glance. Their similarites range from arrogance, small-mindedness and ignorance to shallow whole hearted belief in the significance of their unenlightened mindsets.

Both Julian and his mother rely heavily on appearances to separate and elevate themselves from the rest of society. Julian’s mother hopes that her public demeanor, attitude and clothing will hide the fact that she no longer possesses her family’s former wealth. She in turn judges others by their appearances, automatically considering blacks inferior. She looks down upon the negro man on the bus who wears a suit, even though he is better dressed than her own son. She also looks down on the black woman on the bus although they wear the same ostentatious hat, symbolizing somewhat the transforming cultural landscape and presenting the idea that the two women could be thought of as on equal social footing.

Ironically, Julian also relies heavily on appearances to judge those around him, even whilst criticizing his mother for the same shortcoming. He despises and resents the neighborhood and evident poverty he must live with every day, and uses his university education to distinguish himself from others around him, repeatedly claiming that true culture comes from the mind, in a feeble attempt to justify his apparent failure as a writer. Flannery O’Connor skillfully uses Julian and his mother’s societal delusions to illustrate the unreliability of appearances....
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