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"Everything That Rises Must Converge"

Flannery O'Connor could have been the model for Francis Stuart's definition of the "imaginative writer." In the stories in Everything That Rises Must Converge O'Connor posed awkward questions about the beliefs and values of American society. Her characters were often obsessives and grotesques whose distorted view of the world offered an indirect commentary on the state of society. Even in the most everyday kinds of situations, O'Connor's characters look at their surroundings and act on them in unexpected ways. Yet there is never anything in the writing that places a heavy emphasis on the strangeness of the character's points of view. In fact, no matter how bizarre their reactions to the world may be, O'Connor treats them as if they were perfectly ordinary. This lack of exaggeration in her method of presenting the stories has the effect of heightening their strangeness and increasing their impact on the reader.

The meanings that grow from the stories accumulate gradually, as the reading takes place, and continue to grow after the reading is completed. Many times, for example, the reader is almost forced to look back at the beginning of the stories and start reading them over again. An excellent example of this is the story "The Comforts of Home," in which the narrator's words are, by the end of the story, clearly revealed to be unreliable, reflecting only the main character's distorted view of events.

O'Connor does not call undue attention to these careful modulations in the stories. The situation in a story such as "Greenleaf," for instance, is perfectly commonplace. But Mrs. May's preoccupation with the meaning of the Greenleaf's probable rise to respectability (and her own family's decline) places their otherwise ordinary situation on a larger scale. While nothing that happens in the story shouts about the significance of Mrs. May's perceptions, the story develops the reader's awareness of growing social change an...

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"Everything That Rises Must Converge". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:42, March 18, 2019, from