Everything That Rises Must Converge
by Flannery O'Connor
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person Subjective
The narrator of "Everything That Rises Must Converge" is super involved in the story. We get the characters' thoughts and feelings through dialogue and action, but also through omniscience (basically we're in Julian's head a lot). From his inner dialogue, we learn a lot about his character and how he views his mother, like this charming, "Everything that gave her pleasure was small and depressed him" (3).
Although the story is told through Julian's point of view, the narrator is present throughout, almost acting as devil's advocate. While Julian criticizes his mother, society, his neighborhood, the passengers on the bus, he seems unaware of his own faults. This is when the narrator comes in, pointing out things he tries to ignore (unsuccessfully).
In Julian's opinion, he is "[…] free of prejudice and unafraid to face facts," and "he was not dominated by his mother" (62). Sure, we might buy that—if it weren't for the smooth interjections on the part of the narrator; "[…] he had never been successful at making any Negro friends," (74) and that he imagines himself participating in a sit-in demonstration but doesn't "linger with it."
Why does it matter? By slyly challenging Julian, the narrator makes us question where our loyalties lie—and maybe ask ourselves which role we'd be playing in this little drama.