Study Guide

Everything That Rises Must Converge What's Up With the Ending?

By Flannery O'Connor

What's Up With the Ending?

The last line in "Everything Rises Must Converge," leaves us with a killer open-ending: "The tide of darkness seemed to sweep [Julian] back to [his mother], postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow" (121).

If you were left scratching your head over this and what exactly happened, maybe these interpretations will help:

  1. Literal: Julian keeps running toward the light to find help for his mom, but his panic makes his vision distort and all he can see is darkness. 
  2. Metaphorical: While Julian is running for help in the real, physical world of the story, he is also running away from a future of "guilt and sorrow." We can guess that the guilt comes from his neglect of his mother, but what about the sorrow? Is it because she'll die, or that she'll never be the same again?
  3. Religious: Julian is running to help his mother, taking responsibility for the first time in the story. He's also running toward an existence of persecution. After all the references to God, martyrs, and saints, we think it's safe to say he'll be in a living hell.

The great thing about this ending is that it allows us to come to our own conclusions. O'Connor trusts her readers enough to judge the events, and makes us feel downright smart when left to our own imaginations. What's yours telling you?