During the civil rights movement federal, state, and local governments made wide-ranging reforms in the North and South to end racially related poverty and racial discrimination. Although reforms had taken place not everyone was ready to leave their prejudices behind. The social conflict between the tradition of segregation and racial integration is prominently displayed in Master Harold and the Boys, Everything that Rises Must Converge and Revelation. The judgements we cast on each other effectively serve to highlight our own flaws, than the flaws of others.
Many characters in Everything that Rises Must Converge
. For example, the white women on the bus attempted to reestablish her social dominance by changing her seat away from the black man. Julian’s mother also does this by arguing that her heritage makes her predominant over blacks. O’Connor displays the societal clash of race relations within the context of the relationship Julian has with his mother. Julian’s mother views are still influenced by her ancestors from the South. She still believes in firm social codes of conduct that are used to determine the behavior of blacks and whites. Although these societal rules no longer apply, she still abides to the them to abstain from the new changes of desegregation and antidiscrimination. On the other hand, Julian embraces the new, integrated South and promotes racial equality. He refuses to follow the old social order and upholds the liberal ideas of the new generation. For example whenever his mother starts her rant on how the world is a mess everywhere, Julian creates a “mental bubble” to exclude himself from her thoughts.
Behind the newspaper Julian was withdrawing into his inner compartment of his mind where he spent most of his time. This was a kind of mental bubble in which he established himself when he could not bear to be a part of what was going on around him. From is he could see out and judge but in it he was safe from any kind of penetration from without. It was the only place where he felt free of the general idiocy of his fellows (11).
This quote demonstrated Julians conflict of advocating intergration to his mother. Julian and other young visionary Southerners have trouble acting on their beliefs and therefore are not able to fully treat blacks as equals. Julian believes that an individual's actions and intelligence--not appearance--dictates who they are. He conveys his frustration towards his mother who strictly adheres to superficial aspects to determine a person’s class. “There are no more slaves, he said irritably. They were better off when the were she said”(6). Julian believes his mother's actions demonstrate her ignorance and indisposition to accept the rapidly changing society. Meanwhile, all the African American characters take advantage of the increasing equality to affirm their individuality and to increase their respect among society. This is depicted in the story when Julian tries to befriend the black man on the bus but he refuses to make small talk with Julian. Also, when the large black woman, with the ugly hat punches Julian’s mother for offering a penny to her son Carver. Like many African Americans in the 1950s ,these characters refused to be subjected to disdain and servitude.
In the story Revelation, Mrs. Turpin is a southern, white Christian woman who seems to be well mannered and kind, however her aged societal rules prove her otherwise. She believes that there are classes of people, and blacks, for example, are below homeowners, but above white trash.
Sometimes Mrs. Turpin occupied herself at night naming the classes of people. On the bottom of the heap were most colored people, not the kind she would have been if she had been one, but most of them; then next to them-not above, just away from- were the white trash; then above them were the homeowners, and above them the home-land owners, to which she and Claud belonged. Above she and Claud…