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

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What is the significance of Julian’s mother’s response to the black woman’s hat? What is the significance of Julian’s response to his mother’s behavior?

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Julian's mother takes a great deal of pride in her heritage, and that includes having ancestors who owned plantations and slaves. She does not wish to see harm come to black people, but she prefers that they rise, as she says, "'on their own side of the fence.'" She does not believe in desegregation, and she is racist, but O'Connor does not depict her as a cruel or heartless character. Julian, on the other hand, is cruel. He does things purposely to hurt his mother, and he takes pleasure in upsetting her. He treats black people as objects with which he can injure her—gleefully imagining her becoming deathly ill so that he can call a black doctor, or imagining her anger if he were to bring home a black woman—not as actual equals. He is cruel, very cruel, and this—in a way—makes him worse than she.

One of the ways that she justifies her expensive hat is by saying, "'I at least won't meet myself coming and going.'" She imagines that she will be unique in her special hat, but when...

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