Everything That Rises Must Converge

Many of you will remember: In the season finale, Jacob is shown reading the short story anthology Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor just before Locke falls out of the window. Finally, a LOST easter egg that an english oriented gal like me can really sink her teeth into! I just wanted to outline this work and point out the key signifigances that I see to LOST.

BLACK VS. WHITE- Although the book that Jacob is reading is an anthology of short stories, the titular one is set in the recently integrated American south. The main character, Julian, is a product of the new generation, he respects African Americans and does not see them as inferior. His mother, however, is a relic of a bygone era whose patronizing attitude towards “negroes” is as shameful to Julia as her doting and simplistic demeanor. The dichotomy of black and white, the internal divide that pushes people apart even as circumstances bring us together is an interesting theme, as are the sometimes uncomfortable similarities between black and white.

MORALITY- Although Julian is the more sympathetic character for his lack of overt racism, he is by no means a sunny or heroic protagonist. His sulky demeanor, inexcusable treatment of his “pathetic” mother, and general brattiness are in no way endearing (Jack, anyone?). By the same token, his mothers racism and condescension are in no way commendable, but her unwavering love, support, and devotion to her son is touching. The black people, the white people, the men, the women, they are ALL flawed. The whites are not painted as solely ignorant oppressors, nor are the blacks painted as victimized weaklings. It is a story of human frailty in every way. In other words, black and white may be opposites, but this does not make the situation as clear as GOOD VS. BAD.

DEATH- [warning!!! short story spoiler ahead!] . The story takes place over a short period of time, when Julian is grudgingly escorting his mother to her weekly excersise class. The trip involves a trip on the integrated bus system, which brings about events which greatly anger Julian. He begins to torment his mother, hating her for her stupidity, her bigotry, her devotion to him, her inability to give him what he wants, and her overall ignorance. As her actions grow more foolish (she gives a little black boy “shiny new penny” and is promptly clocked on the head by the boys own mother–“he don’t take nobody’s pennies!”), Julians own actions grow more cruel and his words more harsh. Though he can see his mothers temper rising he does not stop, and finally she suffers a stroke from which she will presumably die. Julian is instantly overwhelmed with guilt and love. The story ends with “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”. (here we have another theme; what’s done is done?, regret, sorrow)

If anyone has any ideas on WHY this was book was such a gigantic and overt easter egg I’d love to hear them. Obviously there are similarities but I feel like there’s some deeper connection here that I’m not getting.

p.s. the title itself is quite interesting. I see a death slant to it–all souls that rise, good and evil, must come together somewhere at some point. Any other takes on it?

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One thought on “Everything That Rises Must Converge

  1. Not that this is a hoppin thread or anything but I have one more thing to add: O’Connor is well known for her often uncomfortable and unflinching depiction of human frailly, weakness, and the grotesque aspects of life. Interesting choice for Jacob– the defender of humankind– to be reading. Perhaps it explains his wry smile?

    Everything That Rises Must Converge= It Only Ends Once, Everything Before That Is Just Progress (in my opinion)

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