Academic journal article Flannery O'Connor Review

Convergence the Duped Shall Enter Last: But They Shall Enter

Academic journal article Flannery O'Connor Review

Convergence the Duped Shall Enter Last: But They Shall Enter

Article excerpt

eally, Mama," Adrianne practically snorted, feeling desperately close to tears, but angry too, and as if she were about to throw up. It was all so useless! "Won't you ever understand that the white man doesn't give a damn about

"Heah chile, you cut out that cussin' round me. Respect these gray hairs." And her mother kept rocking back and forth in the beat-up old rocker, her silvery head like a burst of white rose petals over a burnt cork jug. Back and forth, back and forth she rocked, busy at her sewing.

"And I wish you wouldn't bring home that filthy white man's drawers to sew up!" cried Adrianne, her voice getting away from her, out of control. She wanted to scream at her mother, to claw the hideous yellowed flannel under-suit out of her hands. But her mother sat there, placidly sewing, like a squat little black toad in glasses, like a cow, like any idiot who would sew up the drawers of someone who hated them.

"They ain't done nothing to me. Ain't done nothing to you neither. I don't know what the matter is with you. Your daddy and me scraped and saved to send you to school," biting the thread and smoothing out the worn long-johns over her knee, "and whut do we git for it? Nothing but disrespect and abuse from you who ain't even dry behind the ears yet. And you shore God don't seem to be gitting no smarter." She sighed. "I wonder if I ought to take in this here seam. Mr. Kelly's got so thin here recently."

"Well, come on if you want me to go with you to work today." Adrianne wondered how she would be able to stand being in the white house where her mother worked. But in order to have any time with her at all during vacations she had to go to the house and talk to her while she scrubbed and waxed and polished and cooked apple pie and fried chicken for the Kelly brats. She never let Adrianne help her with the work and had lectured her severely when Adrianne had suggested it. Heaving a deep sigh that shook her thick chest and small breasts, her mother dragged herself out of her hunched over position, groping around the bottom of her chair for the fan that had fallen as she moved to get up.

Adrianne followed her as she treaded heavily across the rickety porch to the sagging screen door. Her mother ran her fingers tenderly and proudly around some flower petals near the door with an awed curiosity in her small weak eyes that never failed to make Adrianne sorry for whatever she had done. Today, however, her mother's soft vulnerability had less effect on her than ever, as it always was on Adrianne's first days home from college.

"I wonder if I ought to take miz Kelly a sprig of this here callidendrum," her mother mused as she fingered a plant on the front steps that pushed out aggressive thick green and white leaves from a rusty old coffee can painted thinly and sadly in "cheerful" yellow paint.

"For God's sake, Mama, don't give that old buzzard a thing!"

She could never get used to her mother's saying "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" to a lot of pissy little creeps who were no older than she was. And it burned her up that Mrs. Kelly, the woman her mother had started working for soon after Adrianne started college, called her mother "Katie" instead of "Mrs. Taylor," and although her mother knew how much she hated it she made a point, even when talking to Adrianne, to call Mrs. Kelly "Mrs.," although they had played together as children.

"Ain't I told you to be more respectful, young'un?" said her mother, remorsefully rather than forcefully, for she loved this angry daughter of hers. Her reproaches were always soft-spoken, as if her disagreement with her daughter's philosophy was too settled to be stirred by words, no matter how vehemently spoken. "Why cain't you never understand nothing" she murmured on, busily attacking the root of the calodendrum with a hoary and calloused finger. "You is just lak your uncle Ulus, all the time griping about the white man-and lord look at whut happened to him. …

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