Flannery O’Connor According to Julian, “True culture is in the mind”, not in the hat, while, in the mother’s, “It’s in the heart and in how you do things… .” (Par. 43 & 44) Interpret the points. Which one are you for? Why? O According to Julian, “true culture is in the mind”, not in the hat. Here, he wants to emphasize the importance of knowledge, education. These inside values play a roll in helping you understand how the world has changed.
Therefore, you have to integrate in the new society and soon adapt yourself to new circumstances. That’s why Julian does not like the hat his mother’s wearing. “A purple velvet flap came down on one side of it and stood up on the other; the rest of it was green and looked like a cushion with the stuffing out.” The hat’s no longer suitable both for her and for the new society where the Chestny’s values are nonsense. His understanding is right. However, he’s not totally living with these radical ideas.
From the bottom of his heart, he momentarily reminisce the high-ceilinged room sparsely settled with large pieces of antique furniture. His reverie proves the fact that he’s not pleased with the presence. Another point is that he always opposes discrimination, racism strongly and encourages people to discover new identity in the black as he did. Actually, in his eyes, he still sees something “familiar-looking” in the giant Negro woman and he cannot restrain his sense of superiority towards Negro friends. Psychologically, we can recognize the contradiction in Julian’s views. Through the story, Julian is considered as an educated man who is always proud of his “mind.” Nevertheless, it’s “the inner compartment” into which he withdraws and in which he feels safe from the general idiocy of his fellows.
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He just uses his mind as a tool to justify his behaviors. Out of this cover, he cannot affirm any direction in the “world of mess.” Julian’s mother, on the contrary, reckons that “true culture is in the heart and in how you do things and how you do things is because of who you are.” The heart represents her will and strength in the past and up till now. With the heart of a mother, she tried her best to struggle, to overcome hardship in life in order to bring up Julian and gave him first-rate education. She sacrificed all. That’s the true culture.
In addition, true culture is manifested through behaviors and manners. She supposes that how she does things shows her class, her glorious past. Though living in a new world and in reduced circumstances, she expresses her steady point of view that you know who you are and you remain who you are. She remains who she is in the world of mess. She refuses to adjust like Julian. It’s true that she regards the black as inferior and lives with prejudice.
However, in everyday communication, she does not show any prejudice or discrimination towards the black. She lumps all children, black and white, into the common category, “cute.” She smiles at the little Negro boy and gives him a new penny because he’s adorable, not because she wants to show her superiority. After interpreting the points, we can see that the two statements are neither totally right nor wrong. It will be perfect if Julian thinks less of himself, sympathizes with his mother and respects the black more; and if Julian’s mother does not cling to her past too persistently like she has done.
True culture is in the mind, in the heart and in one’s behavior.