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This is a story about a guy named Julian who is accompanying his mother to an evening exercise
class. They live on the poor side of town even though they come from a family with old
money. Julian is an aspiring writer who sells typewriters, having just graduated from college.
They catch the bus, and his mother, an opinionated old woman, expresses her dislike and distrust
As Julian is disgusted with his mother's prejudice, a Black woman and her young son enter the
bus. Julian smiles as he sees that both the woman and his mother are wearing the same
Julian's mother takes kindly to the young boy and as they are both getting off the bus
at the same stop, his mother offers the boy a penny.
Insulted, the boy's mother gets upset and punches Julian's mother in the face. Embarrassed,
his mother decides to skip the class and walk home.
In the end, Julian's mother passes out on the sidewalk.
The idea of identity is a big part of this story. Both Julian and his mother claim to
know their own identity. Julian, for the most part, sees and knows who he is. He's a college
graduate trying to make it in the world. However, his mother is self-delusional.
The mother's identity is an identity from the past and this allows her to see the world
as someone from a different time. And it's in this time that she sees herself that she
views the world as a rich woman from old money who owns servants and lives an entitled life.
But her reality is quite different. She is neither wealthy or privileged. They live in
a poor neighborhood and catch the bus.
It's from the mother's self-delusion that readers see her biggest flaw - the idea or
need to feel unique and special. Her disdain of "meeting herself coming and going" drives
her to be antagonistic towards others, especially those she feels she is better than. The purple
hat is a symbol of this attitude in that it makes her feel better than other women.
But what does this title mean? Does everything that rises converge? Ultimately, no matter
how society categorizes or groups people, everyone is fundamentally the same. And it's
this sameness that will create these opportunities for different groups to be on equal levels.
So while this idea may infuriate some, it does give hope to those who are considered
in low level social groups. Again, returning to the idea that we are all just human beings.