Everything That Rises Must Converge | Study Guide

Flannery O'Connor

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Everything That Rises Must Converge | Quotes

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1.

It gave him a certain satisfaction to see injustice in daily operation.


Narrator, Everything That Rises Must Converge

The narrator makes this remark about Julian, after he lowers his paper to watch what will happen when a large black man gets on the bus. The story takes place shortly after buses in the South were integrated, and many white people are uncomfortable because they have to sit next to African Americans. In this instance, a woman gets up and moves when the black passenger sits down. Julian is a self-righteous liberal who incorrectly thinks he has freed himself from racial prejudice. He likes to watch these small injustices—such as how the white woman moves when the black man sits down—because it makes him feel superior.

2.

That was the whole colored race which will no longer take your condescending pennies.


Julian, Everything That Rises Must Converge

Julian makes this remark after an angry black woman knocks his mother down for offering her little boy a penny. Julian is smug and ostensibly liberal, believing he has moved beyond old Southern ways, but his mother has not. He is angry with her condescending manner and her actions coming from within the bubble of white privilege. Julian wants his mother to understand that what has happened to her is more than an individual incident. It is indicative of a movement against old attitudes. While not only "condescending," she and others like her are in fact "descending," while blacks are rising.

3.

She was a good Christian woman with a large respect for religion, though she did not, of course, believe any of it was true.


Narrator, Greenleaf

The narrator is describing the protagonist, Mrs. May, who runs a dairy farm and sees herself as far superior to the lower-class white family of the man she employs. She is particularly appalled by Mrs. Greenleaf, who has fashioned her own version of a holy-roller type of religion, in which she cuts newspaper clippings of tragic events, buries them, and then rolls around in the dirt praying for the unfortunate victims and perpetrators. Mrs. May finds these religious practices grotesque because she thinks religions should be practiced in moderation. The narrator's voice here is dripping with situational irony in describing Mrs. May as an atheistic Christian.

4.

I ain't got nothing to do with no ten-cent store ... don't want no quarter from you.


Mary Fortune, A View of the Woods

Mary Fortune is talking to her grandfather, Mr. Fortune. Until now, the nine-year-old and her grandfather have been extremely close, and he takes her everywhere. He loves her because she looks like him and has a similar personality. But she becomes furious with him when he insists on selling off a piece of his land on which her family is living. The sale will take away their view of the woods and a large area for play and cattle grazing. She stands up for the family because they are upset about it. Mr. Fortune tries to jolly her out of her mood by giving her some spending money, but she is having none of it.

5.

'This ought to teach you a good lesson,' he said in a voice edged with doubt.


Mr. Fortune, A View of the Woods

Mr. Fortune has just killed his granddaughter, Mary Fortune, by slamming her head against a rock three times. He tried to beat her because she tore up the store of the man to whom he sold the family's land. However, she will not take his whipping docilely as she does with her father. Instead, she attacks him viciously, and he eventually gets the best of her. He doesn't immediately realize he has killed her because that was not his intention.

6.

His mother, at the age of sixty, was going to be introduced to reality.


Narrator, The Enduring Chill

The narrator relates the thoughts of Asbury, the story's ailing protagonist who has returned home to the South. Asbury thinks he is dying and blames his mother for his failure as a writer. He wants her to suffer and is glad that she "should see death in his face at once." He imagines she needs to learn a lesson, and his death will "assist her in the process of growing up." However, like other O'Connor "intellectuals," he is the one who needs to grow up, face facts, and stop feeling sorry for himself. And he is the one who learns a lesson.

7.

How come you let him drink that milk every day?


Morgan, The Enduring Chill

Morgan is one of the black dairymen Asbury tries to befriend when he is attempting to get to know the "Negroes" and learn "how they really felt about their condition." Morgan, talking to the other dairyman, Randall, sees Asbury for what he is—a liberal poseur—and they simply humor him without giving him any information. When he tries to get them to share a glass of milk with him, they refuse, saying they are not allowed to drink the milk in the dairy. He insists on drinking it anyway, in defiance of his mother. The dairymen say nothing, although they know the unpasteurized milk will make him sick. When Morgan asks Randall about it, he says, "What he do is him .... What I do is me." They are not unhappy for him to get his comeuppance.

8.

His mother, with her daredevil charity, was about to wreck the peace of the house.


Narrator, The Comforts of Home

The narrator refers to the mother of the protagonist Thomas. Thomas's mother is never named. Thomas is angry at his mother for going far out of her way in trying to reform a 19-year-old sociopath in an act of Christian charity. But he objects to this radical choice because it affects him and the peace of the house they both live in. He has threatened to leave the house if the girl is not made to leave, but his mother knows he is bluffing. "Daredevil charity," however, can cause disaster when those who do it go out of their way for strangers at the expense of their own family, as is the situation in this story.

9.

You are not logical ... He would have put his foot down.


Thomas, The Comforts of Home

Thomas says this to his mother after she tries to convince him to feel more charitably toward the wayward girl she has brought into their lives. She says the girl could be him, were it not that he had a good upbringing and "all the comforts of home." But Thomas says she is not being rational, and if his father were still alive, he would have put his foot down. In fact, however, Thomas despised his father, who was mean and not above breaking the law. But Thomas is so desperate to get rid of the intruder he ends up channeling the voice of his father in his head. The result is a terrible tragedy.

10.

'Listen here,' he hissed. 'I don't care if he's good or not. He ain't right!'


Rufus Johnson, The Lame Shall Enter First

Rufus Johnson is the club-footed 14-year-old delinquent Sheppard takes home to live with him and his son, Norton. Norton is still grieving over the death of his mother, who died about a year ago. Out of egoism masquerading as altruism, Sheppard has taken on the project of reforming Johnson, drawn to the boy because he is intelligent. Johnson has no respect for Sheppard for several reasons but begins to hate him because Sheppard is an atheist. When he speaks badly of Sheppard in front of Norton, the child defends his father, saying he is a good man. But Rufus knows he is not as good as he pretends to be. Moreover, he is not "right" because his goodness doesn't come from a selfless place.

11.

You don't believe in that book and you know you don't believe in it!


Sheppard, The Lame Shall Enter First

Sheppard has been trying to convince Rufus Johnson, since he first met him, to give up the superstitions of his fundamentalist religion. Although Rufus has not been "saved" and has not committed himself to Jesus, he is a true believer. He believes if he doesn't repent he will go to hell. Sheppard finds it hard to believe a smart boy would adhere to such a creed, and here he is accusing Rufus of not telling the truth. To convince Sheppard, Rufus tears out a page of the Bible and chews and swallows it.

12.

She would dream they were all crammed in together in a box car, being ridden off to be put in a gas oven.


Narrator, Revelation

The narrator is relating what Mrs. Turpin thinks about before she falls asleep. The people (they) represent the hierarchy of classes, both black and white, and where she fits in. As she begins to fall asleep, everything gets mixed up together, and somehow they all seem headed toward a concentration camp. This dream-fantasy is not only comic ("all the classes of people were moiling and roiling around in her head") but also significant because a strict hierarchy of race and class easily leads to a fascist regime and the dehumanization of targeted groups.

13.

Whole companies of white trash ... black niggers in white robes ... battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs.


Narrator, Revelation

The narrator describes Mrs. Turpin's "revelation," her vision of the highway to heaven, where people of all colors and types march along on a "vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire." She is surprised to see respectable people like herself are bringing up the rear. They are shocked to be at the back of the line, and in their "altered faces" even "their virtues were being burned away." The vision is a corrective to the self-righteous Mrs. Turpin, who before her awakening considered herself special and better than other classes of people.

14.

He saw it as a spider web of facts and lies ... not at all important to him ... but necessary.


Narrator, Parker's Back

The narrator says this about the protagonist, Parker, after he is kicked out of the bar. He has just gotten a large and impressive tattoo of Jesus inked on his back, and when his friends tease him about getting religion, he begins to fight with them. This thought comes to Parker when he realizes his life is a tissue of truths and untruths, which seem unimportant to him now that he has turned his life around. Nonetheless, his persona is necessary to function in the world.

15.

The white folks IS going to be working for the colored and you mights well to git ahead of the crowd.


Dr. Foley, Judgement Day

Dr. Foley makes this remark to Tanner, the protagonist of the story, who has been squatting on the land Foley has just bought. Dr. Foley is biracial but is considered black. Tanner (who is white) and his friend Coleman (who is black) are in the moonshine business and have a still. Dr. Foley wants a share of the profit in exchange for letting them stay in their shack on his land. But to work for Foley would be humiliating and offend Tanner's "race honor." Foley is mocking Tanner's attitudes by saying white folks will be working for black folks on a regular basis soon enough.

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