Everything That Rises Must Converge

Themes and Colors
Racism, Similarity, and Difference Theme Icon
Reality vs. Perception Theme Icon
Social Order and Disorder Theme Icon
Family Conflict and Generational Struggle Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Everything That Rises Must Converge, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

“Everything That Rises Must Converge” is set in the American South soon after racial integration has become the law of the land. As such, the story portrays a moment in which people of different races are encountering each other in new ways, even as racism and prejudice continue to impact every character’s perceptions. More specifically, the story shows how characters of different races share fundamental similarities, but often cannot see those similarities because of racism’s…

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Throughout “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” the story contrasts the reality of the world with the characters’ perception of that reality. This contrast makes clear how biases, by warping a person’s understanding of reality, create fraught social conditions like those in the mid-twentieth century American South.

The story’s fundamental contrast between reality and perception comes in its very narration. The story is told by a “close” third person narrator that only has access to Julian’s

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“Everything That Rises Must Converge” is, in large part, a story about the breaking of traditional social hierarchies and the tensions that such changes create. The aristocratic honor culture of the old, white South—built first on slavery, then on segregation—is giving way to a more pluralistic, integrated society, but this transition isn’t harmonious.

In the old Southern culture, as embodied by Julian’s Mother, there’s an emphasis on knowing “who you are,” which is to…

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While the physical confrontation between Carver’s Mother and Julian’s Mother is explosive, it is not the central conflict of Everything That Rises Must Converge. Instead, the conflict between Julian and Julian’s Mother animates the action of the story, giving readers a lens through which to understand the complexity of generational differences between white Southerners.

The conflict between Julian and Julian’s Mother can be seen as a microcosm of white Southern history. The trajectory of…

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