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Emotional Dependency in Everything That Rises Must Converge

In the short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” Flannery O’Connor writes about a man taking his mother on the bus to a weight-reducing class. The man, Julian, is an only child whose father is dead. Although O’Connor does not reveal Julian’s exact age, she makes it clear that he has been an adult for some time. The mother, who struggled to raise Julian in his younger years, is still supporting him. The story goes into detail about the emotional relationship this man has with his mother and how it leaves him emotionally stunted and depressed. Flannery O’Connor has chosen to make the main characters mother and son to show that a boy who cannot manage to become an independent adult man, that is, one who remains an immature, dependent child, is a person who is emotionally crippled, and therefore, angry and depressed.

Flannery O’Connor believes that boys need to grow into the role of man, and that in this society that means to reject and estrange themselves from all of women’s ways and attitudes. If a boy is unable to do that, as Julian is, they develop a hate for themselves. One of the ways O’Connor shows that boys who cannot separate from their mother turn out to live miserable lives, is by continually mentioning how much Julian loathes his mother. In fact, Julian truly hates himself, but he needs to displace his hatred onto his mother, so that he can try to believe that his unhappiness is her fault. Although Julian has reasons to dislike some of the qualities of his mother, he has no real reason to detest her in the way that he says he does. Flannery O’Connor makes this obvious by having Julian admit that he is in fact aware of the above-mentioned fact to some degree:

Julian thought he could have stood …

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… a class of hers. Flannery O’Connor gives a very strong argument that boys who cannot get or are not given the strength to mature into men and to separate from their mothers, are forever, in a metaphorical sense, infants; they never learn how to think and act like adults. When they come to recognize this fact, they live inevitably with feelings of inadequacy, frustration, rage, resentment and despair.

Works Cited

O’Connor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. New York: The Noonday Press, 1956.

Works Consulted

Feeley, Kathleen, Flannery O’Connor: Voice Of The Peacock. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1972.

Hendin, Josephine. The World of Flannery O’Connor. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1970.

Stephens, Martha. The Question of Flannery O’Connor. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973.

The Light in A Sketch of the Past and Mrs. Dalloway

The Light in A Sketch of the Past and Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf’s method to writing fiction was always to “dig out beautiful caves1” behind, within, and around her characters – to tunnel through their consciousness in order to tell their story as artfully as one tells his or her own. It is her “tunneling” process that makes her style so distinctive: her sentences layered with multiple meanings, her paragraphs rich with stream-of-consciousness internal monologue, and her dialogue sparse. Clearly, she had few qualms about taking the modern novel’s all-too-common, linear form of storytelling and turning it upside down in order to dig through to its core – its very essence – and fill it in with her own art. The resultant caves are denser, more detailed and, consequently, often darker than the literary creations of other women writers of her time. To craft them, Woolf manipulates both the direction and span of time, includes literary allusions, and crafts her sentences so as to better develop her characters’ relationships to her themes and each other.

In A Sketch of the Past, Virginia Woolf describes the circumstances under which memories evince themselves: “the past,” she says, “comes back when the present runs so smoothly that it is like the sliding of a deep river.” This view of time – of the past’s reemergence during controlled moments in the present – resonates throughout Woolf’s characters’ stream-of-consciousness narrative. In Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf manipulates time in order to show her characters’ relationships to each other as well as how their pasts govern their present lifestyles.

Indeed, the novel’s central plot lines – Clarissa Dalloway’s party preparations, Septimus Smi…

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…ruth” that she so often sought in other authors’ works2 – that light her readers way to the end of her novel’s dense, winding tunnels.

Works Cited

Abel, Elizabeth. Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.

Woolf, Virginia. “A Sketch of the Past.” Moments of Being. Ed. Jeanne Schulkind. 2nd ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc, 1925.


1. Elizabeth Abel ,”Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis,” Women in Culture and Society, Catharine R. Stimpson, ed., (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1989), xvi.

2. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981)

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