Examine Carver's function in "Everything That Rises Must Converge."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Carver himself does not hold a major speaking role in the short story. Yet, his function is rather important.  On one hand, his purpose seems to humanize Julian's mother.  After spouting off so much misguided analysis about race and the condition of being in the New South, Carver's presence seems to make her more human.  She resumes her condition as a mom, one whose intention is pure.  Julian's mother becomes more likable when Carver is present.  Her desire to play with Carver, joke with him, and act in a benevolent manner towards him is where Julian's mother becomes more approachable.  His purpose also helps to detail how there is a difference when social policy is considered in its broad reaching scope.  For example, Julian's mother can direct a great deal of resistance towards Civil Rights when she considers that its target are the adults.  Yet, when the children are evoked, in the form of Carver, much of that venom and vitriol disappears.  Carver's presence also helps to explain the new condition of the South.  The legal framework of Jim Crow in which there was a clear understanding of the culture of White America and the African- American culture seems to be dissipating.  In the story, a woman of color can sit next to a White man, and a child of color can sit next to a White woman.  It is here where Carver's purpose becomes most evident, to display how the world of Julian's mother's past is dissipating and in its place is something more modern, filled with more questions.

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