Conflicts between people who express outlooks of different epochs often happen in the society and there are lots of situations when even members of the same family who are supposed to be the closest with each other, support opposite visions of the world. However, misunderstanding can always be overcome and warm relations achieved as long as people put efforts into that.
Flannery O’Connor’s book ‘Everything that Rises Must Converge’ deals with the relationship of a mother and her son and represents contradictions between them which arise from their different outlooks on reality in which they are living and shows how they are unable to overcome them. Julian is a recent college graduate who lives with his solicitous widowed mother who has put her whole life to raise him well and give him good education. The conflict of Julian with his mother starts because she has a vision of life which is completely different from his.
Julian’s mother ‘‘…lived according to the laws of her own fantasy world outside of which he had never seen her set foot. ’’ She built that little world for herself, not realizing that times have changed and she needed to adjust to them. She couldn’t keep living in her little world forever and some time crisis was going to occur. Every time Julian made some remark about their present life and that it was different from what his mother had before, she only started remembering past times and past wealthy life which she used to have: “Your great-grandfather was a former governor of this state… Your grandfather was a prosperous land-owner.
Your grandmother was a Godhigh. ” However, it’s impossible to blame her for that- she cannot change, those ideas are too firmly fixed in her mind and Julian should have accepted them but he doesn’t even try to that. No matter how much Julian tries to convince her that reality is completely different from those memories, she never wants to listen to him. However, instead of treating his mother with respect and letting her have some weaknesses like any other person, he gets mad at her all the time.
Everything what his mother says agitates Julian and he is unable to talk to his mother without a feeling of frustration. Even though he takes her to a reducing class and listens to everything what she says, the feeling of irritation doesn’t leave him and he never feels at peace. His rude attitude towards everything what his mother says shows in most of the discussions in the novel. “Will you look around you,” he said tensely, “and see where you are now? ” and he swept his arm jerkily out to indicate the neighborhood, which the growing darkness at least made less dingy. ’ Julian is mad at almost everything what his mother says. It becomes clear that as long as Julian and his mother have different views on things, they will never be able to communicate peacefully and they will always have arguments. What really saves them from stopping communication at all, is calmness of Julian’s mother and her trying to neglect unkind words which her son says. Even though they express different outlooks and despite any bad features she has, she does show concern about her son and she sincerely hopes for his happy future.
Julian’s mother is certainly naive in that because there is hardly any future ahead of Julian but she believes in that like a child and she made sacrifices for him: “The law of [her life] was to sacrifice herself for him after she had first created the necessity to do so by making a mess of things… All of her life had been a struggle to act like a Chestny and to give him everything she thought a Chestny ought to have without the goods a Chestny ought to have…” One of the main points on which Julian and his mother contradict are issues of racism. In Julian’s point of view, black people have a right to do everything just like white people.
However, his mother doesn’t share his point of view because she was brought up in a different society and believes they are inferior. This is again the sign of her living in the past when she had a black nurse and whom she loved but considered her much lower than herself. This attitude can be best seen in the episode when Julian and his mother get on the bus. The bus is half-filled and when mother looks around, she sees only white people and becomes happy. She even says to the lady sitting next to her: “I see we have the bus to ourselves”. Julian couldn’t stand it when his mother said that and again felt shame for her words.
She does her best to show her bad attitude towards black people and doesn’t consider them to be her equal. When a black man comes into the bus and another lady changes her seat to get away from him, Julian’s mother approves of that and thinks this is the way it should be done. The attitude of his mother makes Julian get thoughts of punishing her which show to us that he extremely cruel because a son cannot treat his mother like that. Julian thought “…he might make friends with some distinguished Negro professor or lawyer and bring him home to spend the evening” in order to make his mother feel miserable.
He points to his mother that a black lady sitting in the bus has the same hat as she does and wants to make a point that black people can do everything just like white people, they are people of the same kind- but his mother doesn’t understand that. However, the worst lesson which she gets is when she wants to give a coin to the little black boy and suffers from that because the boy “…don’t take nobody’s pennies! ” and this painful moment leads to the end of the novel. In my opinion, it was possible for Julian and his mother to find ways to understand each other if the son at least put some efforts into that.
Despite of all his mother’s faults, Julian should have been more patient with her and he realizes that in the end of the novel when he understands he has lost her. He is not a saint himself and since every human has weaknesses, he should have been more loving and kind with his mother because she gave birth to him and sacrificed many things for him. When he understands he remained alone, he realizes the whole horror of his situation- that he is completely lost in the world without his mother but there is nothing what he can change about that anymore, so the extent of his self-deception is fully confirmed.
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