In "Everything that Rises Must Converge", the world has ended for Julian's mother on multiple levels. What world is it that has ended and how has it come to an end?
There is the line, “You don’t need to act as if the world has come to an end, he said, because it hasn’t.”
We might say that there are a number of words that have ended for Julian's mother in "Everything That Rises Must Converge". As Julian is entering the early stages of his working life, his mother is entering a new phase as well though hers is marked by a set of changes we might identify as a negative decline.
The worlds that have ended for Julian's mother include her the world of her motherhood (her role in her son's life), the world of race relations, and the world of her childhood and family status.
Motherhood: In the story, we are told early on that Julian's mother worked hard to put Julian through school. She sacrificed for him and he benefited from her sacrifice. Now, Julian must help his mother. There is nothing his mother can do for him. The caretaker role has been reversed.
Race: Much of the story is concerned with the ways the social world has changed.
Julian’s mother holds old-fashioned racist views: she strongly favors segregation, believes that blacks were better off as slaves, and blames civil rights legislation as the main cause of her deteriorated social and economic standing.
The values of the world of her childhood have been replaced by new values of social and economic equality. This fact is seen clearly when Julian's mother receives a blow from the woman on the street for an act of racially motivated condescencion.
Family status: Julian's mother is fond of recalling her family heritage and her family status as it was when she was a child, however:
Descended from a respected, wealthy family, she is now virtually impoverished.
Once she had servants but now she feels guilty for indulging in the purchase of a hat. The transition into a life of lesser means is difficult for Julian's mother. Ultimately, she cannot fully and honestly face this particular change.