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Adelaine Pichardo

ENGLI11000 / Spring 2017


Mr.Bubrow / Section C4

Hidden Valuable Lessons: Everything that Rises Must Converge


Have you ever met of someone who hates their mom? In Everything That Rises Must

Converge by Flannery OConnor, Julian who has recently graduated from college is living with

his mother and they don't get along at all, his mom wants him to succeed in life but at the

moment he is just selling typewriters, not only that but his mom and him have very different

morals, clashing with each other every moment; as they get on a bus to go home, Julians mother

strikes conversations with people on the bus and a black lady comes in her son, his mom

becomes friendly towards the black little kid and as they get off the bus, Julians mom wants to

get the kid pennies but the little kids mom knocks her out as she feels disrespected. After this

Julian gives his mom a lecture and all of a sudden she has a stroke; through all of this, we

learned that ignorance can go on for generations and can affect the way someone thinks.

Although Julians emotions became repetitive at one point and the ending is way too corrupt, the

short story does a good job at demonstrating the way life was in the South and the strong feelings

Julian had towards his mother.

Throughout the entire short story, Julian is thinking about how much he loathes his mom.

It makes the readers become fatigued and exasperated with the same choice of words he uses to

demonstrate how much he cant relate with his mom. Julian walked with his hands in his

pockets, his head down and thrust forward and his eyes glazed with the determination to make

himself completely numb during the time he would be sacrificed to her pleasure. (OConnor,

274) This is when we start realizing Julian doesnt appreciate spending time with his mother and

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it bothers him to be around her. As the story keeps on going, Julians mother keeps on doing

things that bugs Julian. There was in him an evil urge to break her spirit. (OConnor, 277)

Words that have negative connotation are being used repeatedly when it comes down to

expressing Julians feelings.

The ending in Everything That Rises Must Converge happens all of a sudden which may

affect the way readers understand the meaning of the story. As Julians mom and him get off the

bus and all of that chaos happens with the black little kids mom, his mom becomes fatigued and

falls onto the floor. Her face was fiercely distorted. One eye, large and staring, moved slightly

to the left as if it had become unmoored. (OConnor, 291) If the reader doesnt have any

background knowledge on strokes, they wouldnt know how she died. I was confused as well

until my teacher brought it up and told us what happened to Julians mom. OConnor should

have brought up her health earlier in the work so the audience could have been more prepared for

what was to come. The ending didnt really go with the rest of the story. I hate to see you

behave like this. Just like a child. I should be able to expect more of you. (OConnor, 291) The

way Julian acts in this scene makes it seem like any other regular moment with his mom since

hes always scolding her and making himself superior to her. If Julian would have started acting

differently, the readers could have understood that something bad will happen.

The short story takes place in the 60s in the South, where racism was at its peak and

racial tension was everywhere. Julians mother shows she has anger towards African Americans

and she looks down on them. They were better off when they were. (OConnor, 276) This is

the mom response after Julian brings up the fact the blacks arent slaves anymore and shouldnt

be treated less than any other human being. Through Julians mom little side remarks, you

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notice how ignorant someone can become after being surrounded by people who only think a

certain way. She comes from a generation of plantation/slave owners so all shes accustomed to

is having hatred towards African Americans. Its ironic how she hates African Americans but

still wants to give the little black kid a coin; it demonstrates how a little part of her wants to

change but her close-mind doesnt allow her to. Not only that but the bus scene does a good in

showing the way life was back then. The woman with the red and white canvas sandals had

risen at the same time the Negro sat down and had gone further back in the bus and taken the seat

of the woman who had got off. As the black man got on the bus and sat down next to a white

lady, she immediately moves away from him just because of his skin color. In the 60s, people

were segregated and would make assumptions of others because of their appearance. Julians

mom represents the old way of life in the South while Julian represents the modern way of life.

Life was hard back then and it wasnt what America should be, OConnor does a good job at

revealing the harshness of life back then.

It becomes obvious that Julian and his mother dont have that typical mother-and-son

relationship. His thoughts towards his mom become harsh throughout the short story and it may

trouble the readers. He would have liked to teach her a lesson that would last her a while, but

there seemed no way to continue the point. The Negro refused to come out from behind his

paper. (OConnor,283) Julian purposely wanted to make his mom mad and teach her a lesson

by talking to the black man. He wanted to give her something to make her hate him because even

through everything, his mom loves him but Julian doesnt seem to want that love. This is very

different from your typical kid because we all want our mothers love except him. He studied

her coldly. Her feet in little pumps dangled like a childs and did not quite reach the floor. She

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was training on him an exaggerated look of reproach. He felt completely detached from her. At

that moment he could with pleasure have slapped her as he would have slapped a particularly

obnoxious child in his charge. (OConnor,283) The fact that Julian is even thinking about

slapping his mom disturbs readers because thats a very unusual thought to have about the one

who raised you unless you hate her like he does. You usually look at your mom with love and

think of ways to protect her not to cause any sort of emotional or physical harm. OConnor uses

strong words to show the hatred Julian has towards his mom which gives the short story a little

spark.

Many may disagree or agree with my thoughts about Everything that Rises Must

Converge. In The Penny and the Nickel in Everything that Rises Must Converge, John Ower

who's a professor from University of South Carolina that studies short fiction, says The new

penny Julians mother does indicates the time has come for Southern whites to Negroes in a

radically different way. Instead, Julians mother stubbornly clings to a quasi-mythical past and

refuses to accept the realities of the present. I agree with this statement because when Julians

mom gives the kid the penny, it seemed out of place because throughout the book all she did was

bash on African Americans. Shes trying to come to terms with the new way of life but her past

and the way environment she grew up dont allow her to. This builds onto the idea that your

environment as a child can affect who you grow up to be. Also, in Black and White: A Study in

Flannery OConnors Characters, Melvin G. Williams, author for African American Review in

St.Louis University, says Julian would use him immorally as a weapon to teach his mother a

lesson - and he fails. Yet OConnor has used him as a moral weapon to teach the reader a lesson

- and she succeeds. Williams refers back to the scene of the black man in a suit on the back and

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how Julian sits next to him to make his mom mad. As I reading that part, I felt bad for the man

because he was just minding his own business and a white man goes up to him to disturb him.

But if the black man was to do that to any white man on the bus, the world would go out of

control and chaos would happen because society still hasnt come to terms that we are all equal

to each other. OConnor does a good job in adding in that hidden lesson during this scene that

many didnt pay attention to. All of these reviews about OConnors work seemed to touch

actually what I was thinking and made me appreciative of this short story. It had a lesson

everywhere if you look close enough.

In summary, Flannery OConnor does a good job in demonstrating a son and mothers

relationship with each other and how their different way of thinking affect them deeply. She uses

the time era to her advantage to give her a real picture on how life was back then. The short story

may get confusing and repetitive at some time but not everything can be perfect. By using

Julians mother and him who are just regular characters in the 60s, OConnor allows the

experience throughout the book to be more raw. Nothing major happens but little actions done by

the characters give out valuable lessons. Everything that Rises Must Converge is a short story

everyone should read due to the fact that it may be challenging for students but it would allow

them to practice into the habit of looking into the little cracks of things to allow them to

appreciate it more.

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Works Cited List

Ower, John. The Penny and The Nickel in Everything that Rises Must

Converge. South Carolina: EBSCO, 2002. Print.

Williams, Melvin. Black and White: A Study in Flannery OConnors

Characters. Missouri: JSTOR, 2016. Print.