All the characters in Flannery O’Connor’s story scuffle to redefine or maintain their sense of identity. “The world is in such a mess” observes Mrs. Chestny. “If you know who you are you can go anywhere” is her advice to her son. Julian however understands the turmoil of the times they are living in and he retorts : “Knowing who you are is good for one generation only. You haven’t the foggiest idea where you stand or who you are.” Mrs. Chestny however stubbornly persists in her bigoted views emphatically stating that the blacks should “rise on their side of the fence.” The ones she feels most sorry for are the “ones that are half white. “According to her “They are tragic” being neither here nor there, neither black nor white, having lost their identity completely.
Apart from Julian and his mother, the other white woman on the bus also harbors racist prejudices and asserts the same by changing her seat once the black man boards the bus to mark her supremacy. On the other hand, the black characters are in a constant struggle to assert their individuality and new found respectability. The black Man does not show any intention to talk to anyone but wants to stamp his new found authority through his appearance. Carver’s Mother also showcases same racist attitudes by not allowing her son to play with Mrs. Chestny and ends up hitting her without comprehending her real intentions.