The short story form has evolved over the years into a different sort of context than when Hemingway, O’Connor, Raymond Carver and Eudora Welty were writing them. Now there are hundreds of short story collections published that have characters who are inter-linked throughout, stories that focus more on smaller details vs. the large thematic symbolic form from the past.
In Flannery O’Connor’s famous Everything That Rises Must Converge, there are cross-generational differences, race relations and integration in the 1960’s South, relationships between mothers and sons all rising to the surface through plain spoken story telling. There’s black comedy, borderline satire, rage, fear, and revolution.
Julian and his mother fight over whether blacks should be allowed to sit non-segregated on the bus.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s simply not realistic. They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence.”
“Let’s skip it,” Julian said.
“The ones I feel sorry for,” she said, “are the ones that are half white. They’re tragic.”
“Will you skip it?”
“Suppose we were half white. We would certainly have mixed feelings.”
“I have mixed feelings now,” he groaned.
Julian is fueled by contempt for his mother’s antiquated beliefs, her rootedness in a past life that Julian calls “obsolete” in the present. He continues to poke at her old fashioned sensibilities, trying to anger her into fierce debate. Which doesn’t come. In the end, father and mother are alike in opposite ways - she yearning for her old life of comfort and hired colored help, and he, having never experienced it, jealous of her youth.
The ending is genius. A culmination of flipping all the prior themes upside down and opening them wider.