Throughout ‘Everything That Rises Must Converge’, the story contrasts the reality of the world with the characters’ perception of that reality. This contrast makes clear how biases, by impeding a person’s understanding of reality, create anxious social conditions like those in 1950’s in American Southern states. The story’s fundamental contrast between reality and perception comes in its very narration. The story is told by a close third person narrator that only has access to Julian’s internal world, and whose tone of narration mirrors Julian’s own way of thinking and speaking. When the narrator discusses Julian, then, it seems reasonable that the narrator is expressing Julian’s own sense of himself. For instance, when the narrator says that Julian spends most of his time in the “inner compartment of his mind,” which allows him to judge in a way that’s “safe from any kind of penetration from without,” this seems to express Julian’s own view of himself. While Julian considers himself being superior because of his “inner compartment” it is clearly manifested that both Julian and the narrator are far away from reality.
The story presents numerous incidents portraying the conflict of reality and perception. Both Julian and his mother have their very own objective views which they want others to believe in. Julian’s Mother wants to project that she has raised a boy well. She takes pride in the fact that Julian has gone to college and is good looking. On the other hand, Julian believes that having relationships with the Blacks will make clear his moral views to the world. In fact, in his bid to assert his moral superiority he even fantasizes to marry a Black woman. The incident of Julian’s Mother giving a penny to Carver is also a mere kind and generous action towards a cute child, but Carver’s Mother finds it to be intensely condescending. This divergence in the two women’s perceptions of reality leads to a physical confrontation and further chaos.