Julian’s mother’s patronizing attitude toward blacks derives from fear and her dated perceptions of society and racial equality. Because of her upbringing, she has strict ideas about racial division, and her belief in segregation allows her to speak affectionately about her nurse, Caroline, while simultaneously believing that blacks were better off as slaves. In her mind, blacks should only be allowed to rise on their “own side of the fence” because full integration poses a danger to the social order. At the same time, she adheres to the older social norms, which prompt her to give Carver a penny without understanding the racist and patronizing nature of the act. She functions as a model of old southern gentility, harboring racist attitudes while maintaining a strong sense of social decorum. Ironically, the climax of the story pushes Julian’s mother even further back into the past. After her apparent stroke, she becomes confused and disoriented, calling out for her father and her nurse, Caroline, both of whom are long dead, because she associates them with security and comfort.