Everything That Rises Must Converge

by Flannery O’Connor

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How does O'Connor's figurative language in "Everything That Rises Must Converge" support her themes?

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The cent that Julian’s mother gives the black child carries metaphorical values. The coin carries the portrait of Lincoln with the motto “liberty.”  On the other side is a picture of the Lincoln Memorial.  Given the fact that Lincoln is the Great Emancipator but Julian’s mother still retains the traditional southern (condescending) views toward blacks, her giving the child this coin is very ironic.  Another example of figurative language is the grotesque hat with one purple flap up and the other down, worn by both the black woman and Julian’s mother, suggesting that the two women are ‘‘doubles,’’ in this way making a statement about racial equality. O’Connor describes it as “a hideous hat. A purple velvet flap came down on one side of it and stood up on the other; the rest of it was green and looked like a cushion with the stuffing out.’’ The purple of the hat suggests bruising, making it appropriate for a woman whose eyes seem bruised and whose face looks purple as her son torments her, and who will literally be struck to the ground by an overstuffed purse. The black woman, meanwhile, has been psychologically and physically bruised by her life in the South, bruises which are less apparent to whites who, for generations, had been conditioned to believe that blacks have less sensitivity to blows than whites.

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