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Everything That Rises Must Converge

Everything That Rises Must Converge


by Flannery O'Connor

Everything That Rises Must Converge "Everything That Rises Must Converge" Summary

  • We begin with a the news that Julian's mom needs to reduce.
  • "Reduce" is a super-cute old-fashioned term for "lose weight." We're thinking about making that happen again; what do you say?
  • Anyway, Julian's mother has to lose twenty pounds because of high blood pressure.
  • Because he's such a good son (ha!), Julian takes her to the Y for her reducing class. You know, like Jazzercise but without the leotards.
  • This Wednesday night he waits for her as she puts on her new hat in front of the mirror.
  • Full of shopper's guilt, she debates whether or not she should have bought it.
  • Ugh, mom. Julian tells her she was right to have bought it, even though he thinks it's hideous.
  • We learn that Julian is a recent college grad currently living off of his mother.
  • In pure Holden-esque form, Julian's disgusted by his neighborhood; though once a "fashionable" area it is now full of "bulbous liver-colored monstrosities of a uniform ugliness […]" (5).
  • Mama J follows him outside while putting on her gloves.
  • Julian looks sullen and depressed, and Mama J assumes it's because he hates the hat.
  • Way to make it all about yourself, mom.
  • Annoyed, Julian tells her "shut up and enjoy [the hat]" (13). Ouch!
  • They walk to the bus stop, discussing light topics such as poverty and slavery; Julian's mother thinks blacks were better off as slaves and says they should "rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence" (24).
  • Before a real argument can erupt, they reach the bus stop, with no bus in sight.
  • As if possessed by the devil, Julian gets an "evil urge to break her spirit" (37).
  • He does this by unloosening his tie and (gasp!) pulling it off.
  • Mama J tells him he looks like a "thug."
  • Julian's retort? He tells her that "true culture is in the mind, the mind" (43).
  • She disagrees and tells him it's in the heart and that she knows who she is.
  • In the nick of time the bus comes and Julian and his mother sit next to a woman with long yellow hair.
  • Social butterfly that she is, the mother starts a conversation about the heat and how she's glad that they have the bus to themselves (i.e., no blacks).
  • The women talk about their sons; Julian's mother reveals that he wants to write but for now he's selling typewriters.
  • Julian retreats into his thoughts, grateful that "he was not dominated by his mother" (62).
  • Keep telling yourself that, kid.
  • Trouble begins when the bus stops and a large, well-dressed black man with a briefcase gets on.
  • Julian's mother jabs Julian in the ribs and whispers "now you see why I don't ride on these buses by myself" (63).
  • Oh yeah? Julian sits next to the man to get a rise out of his mother; to show her how open he is he asks the man for a … light.
  • D'oh! Turns out there's no smoking on the bus … big fail for Julian.
  • The bus stops again. This time a large black woman and her young son, Carver, get on.
  • The woman sits next to Julian and the Carver sits next to Julian's mother.
  • Julian realizes that the woman is wearing the exact same hat as his mother. Julian sees this as a gift from above, but he's sure she'll be mortified to see she has the same fashion taste as a black woman.
  • Alas, Mama J notices, but is more interested in playing with Carver.
  • Unfortunately, Carver's mother drags him away from Julian's mother, unimpressed by their fast friendship.
  • Julian and Carver's mother pull the bus cord at the same time.
  • As they step off, Julian's mother searches in her bag for a nickel to give Carver;
  • Julian says something along the lines of, "uh, don't," but she doesn't listen.
  • Instead of a nickel, she only has a penny and tries to hand it to cute little Carver.
  • Unfortunately, a white woman giving a black boy money during integration is never a good idea. (Or, really, any time.)
  • With the might of her fist and ginormous pocketbook, Carver's mother knocks Julian's mother to the ground.
  • Instead of comforting his mom, Julian says, "you got exactly what you deserved" (104).
  • Although Julian's mother stands up, she's very shaky.
  • Always the preacher, Julian says, "the old world is gone. The old manners are obsolete and your graciousness is not worth a damn" (110).
  • It isn't until Julian catches his mother's arm and looks at her face that he realizes something is wrong.
  • Who does Mama J asks for? Grandpa (he's dead) and Caroline (her childhood nanny).
  • Shocked, Julian lets her go and she falls to the pavement.
  • Julian cries "Wait here, wait here!" (121) and runs off for help, leaving her alone.

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