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 Meridianís individuality is when she rejects religion at a
very young age despite her motherís 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 didnít 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 personís 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 motherís
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 childís 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: ĎWe shall overcome...í" (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 mayorís 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