Meridian By Alice Walker 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 Meridians individuality is when she rejects religion at a very young age despite her mothers 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 didnt 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 persons 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 mothers 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 childs 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 mayors 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 Lymes 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.