Flannery O'Connor's "Everything That Rises Must Converge" and "Good Country People" have extremely complex story lines. What makes these stories so involved is how the characters relate to others. Discovering who the characters in the stories are and what they represent becomes the reader's purpose and goal. In order to truly understand her stories the reader must look deeper than the surface. The underlying messages must be searched for as a person looking for hidden treasure.
In the first story the character Julian is the key to unlocking the meaning behind the story. Julian has gone to college and has developed his mind. Because of this he views himself as superior to those around him, especially his mother. The mother, although given to prejudices, has a kind heart. This seems to be the main difference between these two characters. Julian puts more stock in how educated a person is and the importance of having a well-developed mind. He sees his mother as lost in the past. He says to her, "You haven't the foggiest idea where you stand now or who you are" (1081). Her sky-blue eyes are described as "innocent and untouched by experience as they must have been when she was ten" (1080). Although Julian's mother is proud of his education, she knows a heart full of love is more important than a head full of empty knowledge. He believes that it is foolish to let feelings get in the way of facts. He believes that he is "unafraid to face facts" (1085). Is he really though? He has cut himself emotionally free from his mother and from society in general; but is he completely objective? According to Way...
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...hey had been educated, they saw the rest of the world as inferior. In reality they were blind to the real world. Their education only made it harder for them to see what was going on around them. In both cases it took something drastic and terrible in order for them to break out of the fetters of education that were holding them captive.
Booth, Wayne C. "A Rhetorical Reading of O'Connor's 'Everything That Rises Must Converge.'" The Story and Its Writer. 5th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 1634-37.
O'Connor, Flannery. "Everything That Rises Must Converge." The Story and Its Writer. 5th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 1999. 1080-91.
---. "Good Country People." The Story and Its Writer. 5th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 1091-1105.
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