Everything That Rises Must Converge

There is an absolute theme of integration in
"Everything That Rises Must Converge" by
Flannery O’ Connor.

Through the experience of reading this
short story, we can depict the characters’
past experiences.

There are two incompatible personalities in
the passage, Mrs. Chestney, the mother,
which represents the transition from the old
South, and Julian, the son, who represents
the transition of the new South.

Due to the fact that Mrs. Chestney was the
granddaughter of a governor, it purely
conveys that she ranked high in wealth and
position. This purely expresses her
growing experience in a southern manner
and to behave in a gentile southern manner.

In relation to integration, Mrs. Chestney
dismisses the plight of blacks with a
southern response, "They should rise, yes,
but on their own side of their fence".

This attitude most likely resulted from
being taught to talk this way all her life.
Although she makes thoughtless remarks,
her genuine affection for her childhood
nurse Caroline, shows that she has no real
malice towards the black race.

There is a repetition of the words "meet
yourself coming and going", in which she
implicates her kind, as the party
responsible for the tension between black
and whites. In fact, what she really means is
that, "we dominated this race of people",
and feels threatened by it. Also, Mrs.
Chestney truly meets her match when the
black woman who boards the bus with her
son refuses her charity. Julian becomes
overjoyed when he notices that the
woman’s hat is identical to his mother’s.
Thus, Mrs. Chestney fears materialize- she
truly "meets herself coming and going".

Mrs. Chestney doesn’t open her mind to
face reality, but instead is looking for a
deeper message than what is offered in
Julian’s sermon on race relations. She wants
to return to the sweet smelling mansion of
her childhood that she views as a "safe
heaven" where she will be welcomed. She
regresses to childhood calling out, "Tell
Grandpa to come get me," Tell Caroline to
come get me." This purely indicates that the
mother is still living in the past.

In opposition though, Julian is obsessed
with the idea of integration, and thus
indicates that he was brought up
completely different than his mother. He
experiences life and race relations
completely different as opposed to his
mother. For example, "he daydreams about
making black friends, and even bringing
home a black lover." This statement is
impossible, mainly because of his refusal to
deal with the outside world and "the
general idiocy of his fellow." "Julian lives"
in the inner compartment of his mind…
safe from any kind of penetration from
without." His view of the world is too
cynical and ironically every attempt he
makes with the blacks fails.

What can be conclude of Julian is that he
had an absence of heart, which blatantly
depicts his past, but when his mother dies,
the love that he was unable to express
comes out when he cries, "Darling,
sweetheart, wait."

In conclusion, Mrs. Chestney was trying to
make the past present and that caused
many conflicts between her son and herself.
Since she was obsessed with her past way
of living, she was trying to convince her
son to follow her idiosyncrasy, but Julian
was following his mind, not his mother’s
heart.

Category: Book Reports