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Everything That Rises Must Converge. Plot Summary. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of every Shakespeare play.
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Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Themes All Themes. Symbols All Symbols. Theme Wheel. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Everything That Rises Must Converge , which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Julian bemoans her racist motivations for needing company, but he travels with her out of a sense of familial obligation.
While he finds the hat hideous, Julian yells at her to wear it, wanting to begin and end their trip as soon as possible. Julian despises his Mother for her bigotry, but still feels loyal to her and agrees to chaperone her trips. He believes in equality, but his family history connects him to a racist tradition.
The abnormal description of the surroundings also creates an almost sinister, otherworldly tone, a trademark of Southern Gothic fiction. Active Themes. Racism, Similarity, and Difference. Related Quotes with Explanations. Julian visited the mansion once when he was young and it was descending into a state of disrepair.
Her memory of the family home is wistful, focusing on its beauty and neglecting to connect the opulent home to her family history of slave-ownership. Thus, her view of history unjustly separates racism and exploitation from the regal parts of Southern tradition, demonstrating that she cares more about appearances than realities. Complicating his relationship to the family history, Julian, even in his progressivism, loves the elegance of the old estate. His dreams of the mansion show that even white Southerners who are trying to do right fall victim to the dark allures of a gruesome history.
He returns the tie to his neck, but not without making a comment undermining the importance of appearances. His feeling of loyalty morphs into a more insipid desire to punish her. Julian believes that people demonstrate their character through what they believe, and, thus, can change.
Reality vs. Upon hearing this, a woman sitting across the aisle, The Woman with the Red and White Sandals , begins talking about how black people have been all over the busses recently. The three women chat about social training and propriety. They too believe deeply in manners and propriety while not believing in basic human equality. Download it!
While the women talk around him, Julian begins to retreat into his own mind in an attempt to relieve his frustrations. Julian takes her to task for trying too hard to live up to their family legacy, for rewarding herself too heavily for making sacrifices for him, and for putting too much stock in the importance of appearances. Julian, like his Mother and the other women, also has trouble dealing with the reality of his surroundings.
Instead of directly confronting the white racists who anger him, Julian retreats into his thoughts, where he convinces himself that he understands objective realities more clearly than his Mother does. This also affords him the opportunity to morally grandstand over the other Southern whites instead of actively assessing the ways that he too might be contributing to misunderstanding between the races.
The irony is that Julian looks down on his mother without recognizing the ways in which he, in his passivity, is complicit in her bigotry. The bus makes another stop and a smartly-dressed black man boards. The fact that he morbidly enjoys it suggest that he maybe cares more about winning his argument with his Mother and feeling superior to other Southern whites than he may care about equality.
In this way, his character is proof that well-meaning people can still be harmful to progressive causes and the people they think they are helping. Julian can no longer handle the situation around him and he decides that he needs to prove a point to his mother.
The Well-Dressed Black Man, meanwhile, is unfazed by the gesture and continues to read his newspaper. In his interaction with The Well-Dressed Black Man, Julian further indicates that he, in a different way than his Mother, treats black people as something other than completely human. Julian treats the Well-Dressed Black Man as a symbol, or a prop, in his ongoing moral argument with his mother.
Julian fantasizes about having a highbrow conversation with the Well-Dressed Black Man to teach everyone a lesson, but when he attempts to start such a conversation, the Well-Dressed Black Man becomes annoyed. In fact, this impulse has prevented him from ever making friends with black people.
As Julian admits these failures, his fantasies about connecting with black people only become more elaborate and untethered from reality. This demonstrates again that Julian might be more interested in the appearance of a liberal value system than he is in acting in a sincerely progressive manner. Julian is overcome with joy, thinking that the hat might be what finally teaches his mother the lesson he desires for her to receive.
Such a reaction shows that racism is such a strong and dark force that it leads people to dehumanize and alienate each other in even the most banal circumstances. This sort of tenderness is a product of a paradoxical Southern etiquette, in which cruelty is often disguised as gentility. Realizing that the four of them are all getting off the bus at the same time, Julian has a terrible premonition that, after they depart the bus together, his Mother will try to give Carver a nickel.
The irony of this moment, of course, is that Julian implores his mother to treat the black bus-riders differently than she might treat others. The physical confrontation symbolizes the explosion of a much larger and deeper racial tension in the South, which has been building for more than a century.
She makes her indignation felt in the most direct way possible. That was your black double…the old world is gone. The old manners are obsolete and your graciousness is not worth a damn. Julian decries this reaction, claiming that he hates to see her acting like such a child. In trying to teach his Mother a lesson after she has been hit, Julian also comes off as condescending. His lecture is an example of how well-meaning Southern whites can alienate racist white people by being opportunistic in their displays of moral superiority.
Then, she asks to have her black childhood nurse, Caroline, come get her. Thus, she begins to look unrecognizable and to insensibly call out for people from her past. Darling, sweetheart, wait! He turns her over and her face has become grossly distorted, eyes moving in different directions, suffering apparently from a stroke. Julian begins to run towards lights he sees in the distance, calling out for help, but to no avail. Ultimately, Julian fails in his attempts to distance himself from his racist Mother and the monstrous cultural legacy she represents.
As she begins to suffer a stroke, he feels drawn closer to her. In being drawn back to his Mother, Julian is drawn back to a symbol of the old South—his mother, who is also literally the source of his life. His rough demeanor changes and he becomes almost infantilized. The story ends with both Julian and his Mother altered: he has regressed to a childlike state [BB1] and she has broken down completely in a classically Southern Gothic fashion.
O'Connor's Short Stories
Everything That Rises Must Converge. Plot Summary. LitCharts Teacher Editions. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of every Shakespeare play. Sign Up.
Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories
The flawed characters of each story are fully revealed in apocalyptic moments of conflict and violence that are presented with comic detachment. The title story is a tragicomedy about social pride, racial bigotry , generational conflict, false liberalism, and filial dependence. His smug selfishness is replaced with childish fear when she suffers a fatal stroke after being struck by a black woman she has insulted out of oblivious ignorance rather than malice. Driven by the voice of his dead father, the son accidentally kills his sentimental mother instead of the petty criminal and self-confessed nymphomaniac the mother has taken in. Everything That Rises Must Converge. Info Print Cite.
Everything That Rises Must Converge
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