Themes In Flannery O Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge

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Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything That Rises Must Converge” leaves readers with the haunting image of Julian holding his dying mother in his arms. Contrary to what he would like to believe, Julian’s whole life revolves around her, so readers are left wondering how an event as tragic and disrupting as the death of his only remaining family member, and possibly the only person who really loves him, will leave Julian. The most obvious response to this question is that Julian will realize he treats his mother poorly and finally appreciates her now that it is too late. Realistically though, Julian will not suddenly change his views if given another chance. He might treat his mother better and regret his last words to her; but, overall, Julian is set …show more content…
On the surface, Julian appears, or rather likes to think of himself, as more enlightened than those around him, namely his mother. After spending several years away at college he has come back with a worldlier and more tolerant view than those of his fellow southerners and believes there is “no one worth knowing within a radius of three hundred miles” (684). He realizes African American people are human beings who also deserve to sit in the front of the bus and at the counter. Julian knows his mother is not nearly as progressive as he is, so likes to dream up hypothetical situations such as bringing home an African American woman just to watch his mother squirm and appears to relish in belittling her. Although no one can argue that his mother is without her own faults, O’Connor provides little evidence suggesting she deserves to be infantilized by her own child. Whether Julian thinks to himself that her hat looks “less comical than jaunty and pathetic” or directly tells her that the same hat looks better on the African American woman from the bus, he rarely thinks or says a kind word about his mother …show more content…
Most likely, yes; but only to a certain extent. His mother’s stroke is a jolting wake-up call, and even someone as callous as Julian would more than likely end up regretting how he spent his last moments with her. As Julian’s mother dies and he grows more desperate, he shouts “mother” and then “mama” showing that he is symbolically put in his place as his mother’s child, not the other way around (689). He most likely will never want to slap his mother like “a particularly obnoxious child in his charge” again (685). Yet, as the story ends Julian only shows remorse for how he treated his mother, not for how he looks at the people of his community. This leads readers to believe that while he might treat his mother differently if given a second chance, it is unlikely he would find her any less flawed. In other words, he would still recognize his mother’s shortcomings but would be willing to overlook them and still love her in spite of them. Though when it comes to strangers, the next time he comes across another woman with “red and white canvas sandals” or watches a perfectly good seat given up for no legitimate reason, nothing suggests Julian will start to sympathize with them (682). Because of this, how he views his community will remain unchanged and he will continue to be not an outright racist, but not a true champion of equal rights either. There may no longer be someone for Julian to provoke on a daily basis,

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