Flannery O’Conner’s short story titled “Everything that Rises Must Converge” portrays descriptiveness of the title. It is a posthumous publication that is widely used today in literary analysis. It is an ideal short story that contains numerous elements of such a prose literary work, which range from plot, setting, theme, point of view, symbol, irony, to use of rhetoric troupes. Its brevity and language are the other elements. It can be read within one sitting, a feature that most literary critics such as Aristotle emphasize. Flannery O’Conner’s fiction conveys the author’s theme which has been presented using various aspects.
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Setting of the Story
Flannery O’Conner’s fictitious story is told from the close third-person point of view. The author introduces Julian, who recently graduated and is an intellect living with his mother since he cannot afford his own house. This is due to his meager earning as a typewriter salesman. They are both Whites. Julian and his mother have two different opinions about Blacks, which causes conflict between the two. There is a person to person divergence. “While Julian’s mother hates the Blacks and feels that they belong to the lower class and remain in that class, Julian thinks the opposite” (Kinney 253). He feels “Whites and Blacks are not so different and are capable of doing what Whites are capable of doing without discrimination” (Whitt 145). These contrasting opinions always cause their conflict, thus, making Julian employ any avenue he gets to annoy his mother by proving to his mum that Blacks are also human beings.
Flannery O’Conner’s fictitious story engages the reader to realize how the story is full of social conflict. It is a societal conflict of race relations, which amounts to racism. Julian’s mother still lives in the South era of her ancestors that had strict social codes of the behavior of both Blacks and Whites. Despite the recent changes such as integration of public transport system; Julian’s mother still adheres to the old customs. Conversely, Julian embraces the new integrated South and racial equality. He embraces the liberal ideas of a younger generation, condemning older Whites’ attitude regarding race. This creates conflict between Julian and his mum over dress code, race and appearances.
Racism runs throughout the book, and notably, it was a common issue in fiction works during the mid-twentieth century in South America. This story points out various incidences that bring out the indicated theme. The author uses Julian’s mother to develop the theme of racism. She hates Blacks and feels that they are better off as slaves. She reminiscent her heydays when she used to live with her father in the mansion, where Blacks worked as servants. There was a Black nursemaid who took care of her when she was a little girl. The other workers who worked there were Blacks that socialized her into understanding why Blacks were meant to serve as slaves. She fears the people of color and perceives them as dangerous. This is seen when she is instructed by the doctor to go to Y and she fears going alone. In most cases, she insists that Julian accompanies her, not because of mere company, but because she is afraid of the Blacks.
Racism is evident in her utterances: in a bus they have boarded after realizing that Blacks are not on board. She feels a sigh of relief and is comfortable because of Black’s absence. This clearly indicates that she did not want to mingle with the Blacks. She complains to Julian how the world has changed, and Blacks are transforming. She says that they should rise, but within their own class. Her discomfort begins when a Black woman and her son boards the bus somewhere along the way. The Black woman has a hat like hers. She does not see this as a lesson that Blacks and Whites are any different, but finds it amusing; she thinks that the woman is not the rightful owner of that hat. Her attitude towards Blacks makes her offer Carver, the Black woman’s son, some money. The Black woman pushes her off the sidewalk in anger for despising them and making them look poor and in need of charity. Julian becomes “displeased with his mother’s behavior and attitude towards Blacks and wants to provoke her by bringing a Black girlfriend” (Balee 34). This act annoys Julian’s mother.
Literary Devices Analysis
The author uses the hat symbolically in the short story. Both Julian’s mother and the Black woman possess the same hideous hats, perhaps to hide their faces. The same hat worn by both women symbolizes the transformation, in terms of culture in the South during the1906s to emphasize on equality. Initially, the two women look different during the early times, in terms of their appearance or wealth. These changes and superiority complex fade away slowly. The hat indicates that the two women are the same in terms of taste. They board the same bus, which implies that their wealth status is more or less similar. This is because Julian’s mother travels by a public bus instead of using a personal car.
The penny that Julian’s mother gave Carver symbolizes her attitude towards African Americans. She does this not out of kindness, but because she despises the Blacks. It portrays how White Americans deny the Blacks the opportunity to acquire wealth and have equal access to equal services. This makes people of color work as slaves to meet their basic needs. In addition, the offer to Carver symbolizes the Blacks’ dependence on Whites. However, Carver’s mother becomes angry and rejects it, showing her independence and rejection of subservience by the Whites.
Done on this short story literary analysis shows the suitability of Flannery O’Conner’s fictitious prose work. The fictional aspect of it has met the conventional aspects of fictional works through a strong plot, characterization, and the use of social conflict as a theme to explore on the relationship of Blacks and Whites. The author employs the use of symbolism to further highlight on this relationship. Readers, therefore, learn that it is significant to live together as a human being without looking down upon others.
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