Everything That Rises Must Converge

The Hat Symbol Analysis

The Hat Symbol Icon

Both Julian’s Mother and Carver’s Mother wear identical hats that are eccentric and expensive, which represents the changing culture of the newly-integrated South. The identical hats point to several new convergences between races: both a white and black woman shop at the same store, can afford the same extravagant accessories, and have the same idiosyncratic taste. The hat’s color, purple, is traditionally symbolic of royalty, relating the hat even more specifically to class and social status. In this sense, the hat suggests that both of the characters are trying to signal higher standing in the Southern social hierarchy. In spite of all these parallels between Julian’s Mother and Carver’s Mother, Julian’s Mother’s inability to recognize these similarities represents whites’ unwillingness to recognize black people as equal. This misrecognition is ironically foreshadowed when Julian’s Mother buys the hat, as the store clerk tells her “with that hat, you won’t meet yourself coming and going.”

The Hat Quotes in Everything That Rises Must Converge

The Everything That Rises Must Converge quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Hat. 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:
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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:
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The Hat Symbol Timeline in Everything That Rises Must Converge

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Hat 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
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
...weekly excursions because she doesn’t like to ride the busses alone at night anymore now that they’re racially integrated. Julian bemoans her racist motivations for needing company, but he travels with... (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
...two more black passengers board: a large, colorfully-dressed woman with a look on her face that suggests “don’t tamper with me,” and her dapper little boy, Carver. Carver takes the seat... (full context)