Everything That Rises Must Converge

by

Flannery O’Connor

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Julian’s Mother Character Analysis

A descendant of formerly slave-owning family that fell on hard times, she raised her son Julian by herself. Julian’s Mother laments integration and the cultural change sweeping the South as the death of a regal tradition, both in her family and in her region. Her deeply bigoted attitudes annoy Julian to no end and cause him to fight with her often. The narrator describes her as childlike, almost feeble-minded. Julian’s Mother values manners and appearances and loves cute children of all races so much that she has a habit of gifting them coins. But her gentility cannot hide her repugnant attitudes towards black people. Ultimately, her inability to internalize the surging cause of equality leads her to be struck by Carver’s Mother and suffer a stroke.

Julian’s Mother Quotes in Everything That Rises Must Converge

The Everything That Rises Must Converge quotes below are all either spoken by Julian’s Mother or refer to Julian’s Mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition of Everything That Rises Must Converge published in 1971.
Everything That Rises Must Converge Quotes

“… and she said, ‘If you ask me, that hat does something for you and you do something for that hat, and besides,’ she said, ‘with that hat, you won’t meet yourself coming and going.’”

Related Characters: Julian’s Mother (speaker), Carver’s Mother
Related Symbols: The Hat
Page Number: 407
Explanation and Analysis:

“You remain what you are,” she said. “Your great-grandfather had a plantation and two hundred slaves.”

“There are no more slaves,” he said irritably.

“They were better off when they were,” she said…“It’s ridiculous. It’s simply not realistic. They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence.”

Related Characters: Julian (speaker), Julian’s Mother (speaker)
Page Number: 408
Explanation and Analysis:

It appeared in his dreams regularly. He would stand on the wide porch, listening to the rustle of oak leaves, then wander through the high-ceilinged hall in to the parlor that opened onto it and gaze at the worn rugs and faded draperies. It occurred to him that it was he, not she, who could have appreciated it. He preferred its threadbare elegance to anything he could name and it was because of it that all the neighborhoods they had lived in had been a torment to him – whereas she had hardly known the difference.

Related Characters: Julian, Julian’s Mother
Page Number: 408
Explanation and Analysis:

He thrust his face toward her and hissed, “True culture is in the mind, the mind,” he said, and tapped his head, “the mind.”

“It’s in the heart,” she said, “and in how you do things and how you do things is because of who you are.”

Related Characters: Julian (speaker), Julian’s Mother (speaker)
Page Number: 409
Explanation and Analysis:

Behind the newspaper Julian was withdrawing into the inner compartment of his mind where he spend most of his time. This was a kind of mental bubble in which he established himself when he could not bear to be a part of what was going on around him. From it he could see out and judge but in it he was safe from any kind of penetration from without. It was the only place where he felt free of the general idiocy of is fellows. His mother had never entered it but from it he could see her with absolute clarity.

Related Characters: Julian’s Mother
Page Number: 411
Explanation and Analysis:

She kept her eyes on the woman and an amused smile came over her face as if the woman were a monkey that had stolen her hat.

Related Characters: Julian’s Mother, Carver’s Mother
Related Symbols: The Hat
Page Number: 416
Explanation and Analysis:

“What all this means,” he said, “is that the old world is gone. The old manners are obsolete and your graciousness is not worth a damn.” He thought bitterly of the house that had been lost for him. “You aren’t who you think you are,” he said.

Related Characters: Julian (speaker), Julian’s Mother
Page Number: 419
Explanation and Analysis:

The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow.

Related Characters: Julian, Julian’s Mother
Page Number: 420
Explanation and Analysis:
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Julian’s Mother Character Timeline in Everything That Rises Must Converge

The timeline below shows where the character Julian’s Mother appears in Everything That Rises Must Converge. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
Julian’s Mother begins to lament the current state of society in the South. She believes that their... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Reality vs. Perception Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Julian and Julian’s Mother board the bus and sit together next to a thin woman with protruding teeth. After... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Reality vs. Perception Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
...culture. The Well-Dressed Black Man takes an open seat across the aisle from Julian and Julian’s Mother , and as he sits down, the Woman with the Red and White Sandals leaves... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Reality vs. Perception Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
...tamper with me,” and her dapper little boy, Carver. Carver takes the seat next to Julian’s Mother and Carver’s Mother takes the seat next to Julian, a circumstance which appears to annoy... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
Carver’s Mother orders Carver to leave his seat next to Julian’s Mother to come stand by her. Despite her racist leanings, Julian’s Mother finds children of all... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Reality vs. Perception Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
As Carver and his Mother are walking away, Julian’s Mother calls out to Carver, runs after him, and offers him the penny, which shines bronze... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
Julian’s Mother lays motionless on the ground, a blank expression on her face. Julian manages to help... (full context)
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
...to break her spirit shifts to tenderness and he cries out “Mother! Darling, sweetheart, wait!” Julian’s Mother crumples to the pavement and Julian runs to her side. He turns her over and... (full context)