Study Guide

Everything That Rises Must Converge Society and Class

By Flannery O'Connor

Society and Class

Since this had been a fashionable neighborhood forty years ago, his mother persisted in thinking they did well to have an apartment in it. (5)

Julian goes on to describe the neighborhood in more detail, calling the buildings "bulbous liver-colored monstrosities" and how a "grubby child" usually sat around in the dirt. Classy.

[The mother] was one of the few members of the Y reducing class who arrived in hat and gloves and who had a son who had been to college. (9)

Is it even possible to lift weights wearing gloves? Julian's mother is concerned with appearance and displaying herself in a certain light. Do you think she does this out of pride or out of snobbery?

"'Most of them in it are not our kind of people,' [Julian's mother] said, 'but I can be gracious to anybody. I know who I am.'" (16)

Goodness gracious indeed! Are they not her kind of people because they're poor? Uneducated? Black? Lazy? Sans gloves?

[The mother] was holding herself very erect under the preposterous hat, wearing it like a banner of her imagined dignity. (37)

Oh, imagined dignity! One of the things O'Connor does so well in this story is to show how important clothes can be in defining a character and/or personality. And not necessarily the bad way.

"[…] true culture is in the mind, the mind." (43)

One of the things that's so funny about Julian's outbursts is that he always contradicts himself. Like how he only wants to talk to distinguished looking blacks or he only wants to bring home a woman who looks "suspiciously" black. Sure, Julian, "in the mind." You just keep telling yourself that.

[Julian] might make friends with some distinguished N**** professor or lawyer and bring him home to spend the evening. (74)

Looks are important to Julian. Can you say "walking contradiction"? He's not even very good at judging people, since at one point he assumes that the well-dressed guy sitting next to him is an undertaker.

[Julian] had the terrible intuition that when they got off the bus together, his mother would open her purse and give the little boy a nickel. (95)

In a rare moment of clarity, Julian hits the nail on the head. We just know something bad is going to happen when the money comes out.