Posted in Short Stories

Flannery O’Connor: Everything That Rises Must Converge

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When Julian Chestny, college grad in Flannery O’ Connor’s “Everything That  Rises Must Converge”, states that “he is not dominated by his mother”, the reader already has enough information to think “yeah right”.  The tension between mother and son is apparent in their discussion as they board a city bus so she can take an exercise class at “the Y”.


While the contentions between them are numerous, the one that rears it’s ugly head on the bus ride is racism.  The story takes place just as city buses in the South are becoming integrated.  Keep in mind, though, that this is Flannery O’Connor and I’ve found that it’s not uncommon to find myself laughing hysterically at situations that are also very disturbing.  As several African-American  passengers board the bus, a scene of musical chairs (or seats, rather) plays out as well as anything in a Marx Brothers movie.   It amazes me how brilliant physical comedy can be written in a book.

Julian’s mother says that it is fine for “them” to rise as long as they “stay on their side of the fence”.  That is the closest to the story’s title being mentioned, but a convergence does occur.  Some may want to mistake O’ Connor’s political incorrectness for outright racism.  I would point them to the end of this story as proof otherwise.  I highly recommend this story!

My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


17 thoughts on “Flannery O’Connor: Everything That Rises Must Converge

  1. I’ve been keeping an eye out for Flannery O’Connor lately as I have been hearing good things about her writing.

    1. She comes at things from an odd angle most of the time, but she’s one of a handful of authors that make me say Catholics write better stories than Protestants. I have only read her fiction so far and have thoroughly enjoyed it, but she does have some collections of essays that I’m sure would be interesting.

      1. What a great article! Thanks, Ben!

        I read Brideshead Revisited a while ago and really enjoyed it. I’m glad you reminded me of it. I think it warrants a re-read sometime in the near future. Like O’Connor, I’d say Waugh starts with humanity’s “fallen” nature. At least in Brideshead.

  2. Hi Dale,
    I own about half of Flannery O’Connor’s stories, but this is not one of them. 😦 she’s one of those authors you can always count on to deliver the goods, though,

    A new book club I’ve been attending (based at the Indy Reads Books bookstore downtown) is reading her short story “A Good Man isHard to Find” for a meeting on 7/27. I’ve already read it a few times, but am looking forward to seeing everyone’s reactions to it. (This book group is interesting to me as I am actually the “elder statesman” of the club)

    1. This story has been one of my favorites of hers but like you said I think she always delivers. I would be curious how the conversation goes at your book club. I’ll check to see if you tweet anything. It’s interesting that a younger crowd is reading O’ Connor. Very cool! I need to find a decent book club in Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky.

      1. I heard of it through Indy Reads Books’ website. I think that a regular “customer” there just asked if he could start one that read “quality” literature…

      2. Interesting…a new locally owned coffee shop opened up within walking distance of where I live. They have a small book shelf with some interesting books on it. Not for sale, just for browsing. Could be a good place to start one, perhaps.

    1. I would be curious to find out what you think of it. I can count on O’Connor to make me laugh even if she does it in a slightly odd and off-kilter manner.

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