What is a character comparison for Julian and his mother in "Everything That Rises Must Converge"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Flannery O'Connor's tragic tale of Julian and his mother, Julian is characterized as arrogant, unthinking, selfish, lacking in sympathy, unappreciative and hatefully unkind. In a world in which his elderly mother began life in another era, Julian demands that her views match his college education fostered views. In college, Julian only learned to assert the "right" view without learning to give thought to the radical nature of social change for people reared in opposing times and with opposing views. Whereas Julian's attitude and views are condescending, as when he tries impose his gracious good will on the gentleman on the bus, his mother's views are genuinely kind and loving, even though unenlightened.

Julian both accuses his mother of and condemns her for condescension when she tries to offer the little boy on the bus a penny, a genuine gesture of goodwill even if an out-of-date one. Whereas Julian is selfish in the extreme and disloyal, his mother is generous and giving, loving, kind, appreciative, and loyal. Her last words are for her father and her childhood nurse Caroline, whom she has identified as the best person she'd ever known. The character traits of Julian and his mother indicate that while political and enlightenment can be learned as correct behavior, true human compassion, love, acceptance, and kindness are needed to make social enlightenment noble rather than just another milieu.

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Everything That Rises Must Converge

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