The short story "Everything that Rises Must Converge" by Flannery O'Connor, covers the radical social changes of the South that the characters Julian and his mother experience. Although Julian and his mother have differing views regarding the equal integration of African Americans into daily activities of American life, their different views together reveals the underlying theme of this short story. Julian and his mother represents two different generations and how each generation has a significantly different social views; Julian on one hand is an advocate for the integration of the African Americans whereas his mother still strongly holds onto the traditional values. Despite the new "freedom" that the African Americans obtained after much suffering, there is undoubtedly racism and discrimination that still lurks the American society. The depiction of the old and the new south through the use of the characters Julian and his mother reveals the underlying meaning of the story that change is inevitable and therefore, the only way to go about it is to embrace and accept it because if we keep pushing for consistency (old ways/traditions), there will come a point where it is no longer possible to remain that way leading to a negative outcome. Through O'Connor's usage of characterization, setting and symbolism, she is able to convey the conflict between the races and the complicated social changes and bring the story together as a whole.
Julian and his mother in the story are two characters that greatly conflicts with one another. Not only does one representing the new South and the other representing the old South, their characters is ironic because they both have very strong view points regarding African Americans. Despite Julian's liberated and intellectual view on race he is in actuality a very weak character because not only are his judgements base on stereotypes of African American he is also unable to communicate with them. In the story, every time Julian tries to make an attempt to approach an African American, it is for the sake of irritating his mother and proving what he learned in school rather than because he truly believes that discrimination against African Americans is morally wrong. Julian also uses his education to distinguish himself from those around him, repeatedly claiming that true culture comes from the mind in a weak attempt to justify his apparent failure as a writer. Like most young, idealistic Southerners, however, he has trouble acting on his convictions and fully treating blacks as equals or even people. Julian is also a very conflicting character because despite him professing about how liberal and civilized he is for accepting the integration of the African Americans, he does not know how to treat his own mother. Throughout the story, we constantly see him disrespecting his mother who viewed him as her "hero" and praising him for his education even though he is unemployed and still trying to become a writer. Julian's mother on the other hand from the start shows how double-minded and narrow she is regarding the integration of African Americans but I feel like there is more to her character that reveals that she is more than just a person that loathes African Americans. It is true that Julian's mother still judges the African American and still views them as inferior to her but in my opinion, I think Julian's mother is actually a very compassionate person but because she upholds such traditional southern ideas, she is uncomfortable with the ways of the new South. She is unable to accept the fact that she is now a poor white that lives in the integrated South unlike her grandeur past when she was a wealthy heiress that came from an affluent family and because she represents the dignity of the old South, it is difficult for her to adapt to the rapid changing South. An example that shows that reveals her compassion is when she offered the young negro boy the penny. That action does not show that...
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