Everything That Rises Must Converge
Society and Class Theme
Any story that includes a character going to an exercise class in a fancy hat and gloves deserves our attention. In "Everything That Rises Must Converge," we spend a lot of time with middle- to lower-class whites. We know that Julian's mother "suffered" to feed, clothe, and put him through school, and that their neighborhood is kind of gross. We also see a relatively new class of African-Americans, those who are rising in economic status. The black man who gets on the bus is well-dressed, Carver is in a suit and hat, and his mother carries a large purse, suggesting an accumulation of wealth. Can we judge these books—er, people—by their covers?
Questions About Society and Class
- Who seems to be more down and out economically on the bus—blacks or whites? What does this say about the new South?
- Why do you think O'Connor chose to have the two mothers wearing the same ugly hat? What does it say about the society they live in?
- Why do you think Julian has little success interacting with black men? Does this have to do more with society or with class?
Chew on This
Julian and his mother both fantasize about a return to the old mansion and the days when they were wealthier—during slavery.
Julian believes that education makes you who you are, while his mother believes where you come from and how you present yourself makes you who you are. Who, if either, is correct?