Meridian By Alice Walker Essay Research Paper

Meridian By Alice Walker Essay, Research Paper

In this compelling novel by Alice Walker, Meridian, the main character, grows up

through the eyes of the reader. The author shows us the emotional, physical, and

psychological stages of resistance that Meridian goes through during the height

of the civil rights movement. In fact, if one looks at the life of Alice Walker,

the author of the novel, similarities undeniably exist between the two women.

First let us examine the early signs of resistance in Meridian. One of the first

obvious examples of Meridian?s individuality is when she rejects religion at a

very young age despite her mother?s devout Christian beliefs. In school, she

is unable to finish a speech because she knows that there is no truth in the

words she speaks. ?Meridian was trying to explain to her mother that for the

first time she really listened to what she was saying, knew she didn?t believe

it, and was so distracted by this revelation that she could not make the rest of

her speech.? (Walker, 121) This passage reveals the intellect that overpowers

her emotion developing in Meridian. Yet another example is how Meridian is able

to be a nonconformist when she gives up family life and motherhood when she has

the opportunity to attend college. Her feelings are well explained in this

passage. ?When she gave him away she did so with a light heart. She did not

look back, believing she had saved a small person?s life.? (Walker, 90-91)

Although Meridian feels it will be best for the child as well as for herself,

this decision causes great disturbance within her because of her mother?s

disapproval. The reader sees Meridian enter college after she has made all of

these decisions, and she has also volunteered to work for voter registration, a

decision that foreshadows further resistance throughout the novel. When Meridian

enters college, she does so knowing that she will better herself. One of the

first things the reader notes is her determinism to give the wild child a chance

in society, and then, after the wild child?s tragic and sudden death, give her

a proper funeral. After being denied the opportunity by the authorities, the

reaction from Meridian and other students was devastating. ?The students sang

through tears that slipped like melting pellets of sleet down their grieved and

angered cheeks: ?We shall overcome??? (Walker, 48) Meridian becomes

actively involved in the civil rights movement, although she must conceal this

from the university. She successfully encourages others to join the movement,

and they go from door to door trying to convince others to have the courage to

vote. After becoming aquainted with Truman Held, Meridian soon falls in love

with him. This relationship ends disappointingly for Meridian, but it provides

another excellent example of her prowess. She is able to go on despite the loss

of her child, her lover, and her friend Anne-Marion, who was intent on

convincing Meridian to be willing to ?kill for the revolution? (Walker, 27).

This is when the reader sees Meridian move into her next stage of life after

overcoming severe illness at college. Meridian is alone. Truman has married

Lynne, a white woman, Anne-Marion has forsaken her, and Meridian is just

beginning to think about her views and beliefs from her perspective. She lives

and works in the South, but she is frail and often suffers from paralysis.

Although struggling with her own identity, she still acts as a servant and a

saint among her people. For example, when black people were not allowed to swim

in the public swimming pool, the mayor refused to build them one of their own.

After several children drowned in floods while swimming in ditches that served

as makeshift pools, the city officials were taught a lesson by Meridian. ?It

was Meridian who had led them to the mayor?s office, bearing in her arms the

bloated figure of a five-year-old boy who had been stuck in the sewer for two

days before he was raked out with a grappling hook.? (Walker, 191) Meridian

also acts as a mediator, ironically, between Truman and his wife Lynne. She

remains friends with both of them despite the pain that they once caused her.

Throughout the novel, Meridian provides the reader with examples of her

resistance to racial suppression and segregation and prejudice. Alice Walker,

like her character Meridian, suffered many hardships in her life. One can see

the similarities in the real person and the fictional character. Her mother

suffered from numerous strokes, her partner cheated on her and left her, and she

developed Lyme?s disease, which weakened her physically like her character

Meridian was weakened. (Price) Alice Walker is a brilliant writer and a strong

woman, and her novel Meridian shows the strengths in her writing. It is an

eye-opening novel that provides insight into the life of a young black female

growing up during the civil rights movement.



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