Everything That Rises Must Converge Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

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Does any character escape blame in "Everything that Rises must Converge?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The original question had to be edited down.  I invite you to resubmit the other question.  In true O'Connor fashion, I don't think that any character really escapes blame.  It seems to me that in examining the relationship between Julian and his mother, neither one is really "in the clear" about the condition of their being.  Julian might be evolved socially, but even this is questioned.  Yet, it is only though his mother sacrificing everything she has that he is able to finish college and live his life in the hopes of being a writer.  It is hard to overlook Julian's "evil urge to break" his mother's spirit.  Certainly, Julian might be able to claim some temporary victory, but he cannot escape the responsibility of creating the conditions for his mother's death.  His helplessness at the end of the story helps to convince the reader of his own responsibility.  Julian's mother sacrifices for her son, but her failure to adapt to the world around her and not live in the past is part of the reason why she suffers the way she does.  Julian's mother has to endure some blame for not understanding that the world in which she lived and the world in which she lives is one of change.  Her notions of race relations and speaking without a sense of empathetic understanding regarding race help to construct a reality in which her own downfall is almost inevitable.  While she is accountable for what she believes and her refusal to accept reality, the ending in which she is helpless as a child is one in which one sadly acknowledges her own blame for what has happened to her.  In this, O' Connor has not allowed anyone to really escape blame, suggesting that our traps in which we flail when captured are largely of our own creation.

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