Setting a story in the 1960s South and not talking about race would be kind of like setting a story in Arizona today and not talking about immigration: weird, and everyone would be looking for a subtext anyway. In "Everything That Rises Must Converge," race is the uncomfortable social fabric that the family drama plays out on. Attitudes toward black and whites separate—and unite—Julian and his mom. It's like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, but with even fewer lighthearted hijinks.
Questions About Race
Do you think Julian's mother is racist or just old-fashioned? Should older generations be excused for closed-mindedness if it's a result of how they were brought up?
Why do you think Carver's mother didn't want him to play with Julian's mother?
How would you feel today if someone tried to give your kid money? Insulted? Uncomfortable? Angry?
Do you think it's fair for Julian to try and teach his mother a "lesson" about race? Why does he want to do this?
What kind of outdated notions will your kids hate you for?
Chew on This
O'Connor largely ignores the black community by making them minor characters in "Everything That Rises Must Converge."
Julian is racist, because he only wants to interact with black people who are educated and of distinguished professions.