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

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Can you give me a physical comparison of Julian and his mother in "Everything That Rises Must Converge"?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are only two primary characters in "Everything that Rises Must Converge," so you'd think we'd learn plenty about each of them.  This is an interesting question to answer, as we have literally no physical description of one of them--Julian.  So let's start with his mother.

She's twenty pounds overweight, we know, since she's going to "reducing class." 

Two wings of gray hair protruded on either side of her florid face, but her eyes, sky-blue, were as innocent and untouched by experience as they must have been when she was ten.

Despite the fact that she worked feverishly to put her son through school and give him the best of everything--often doing without for herself--she has the look and demeanor of a young child Julian must take care of.

She's rather old southern belle type, dressing up even to go to weight reduction class--gloves, hat, etc.  Julian despises her for this, among other things.

In contrast, we know nothing about what Julian looks like; all we know is what he's like on the inside--small, petty, mean-spirited, vindictive, and prejudiced, just to name a few.  It's interesting to reflect on why O'Connor might have done that.  Perhaps because what we look like on the outside matters far less than what's on the inside.

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