In this historical and realistic novel, Meridian, written by Alice Walker, portraying the brutalities of life which most African Americans, especially women in the deep South, were forced to endure during the civil rights movement in the 1960s was a both a universal hardship and triumph for all of society. As the main character, Meridian Hill, repeatedly questions the value of her life through death and rebirth, she also seeks to discover the idealized woman, whom certain people repeatedly try to see inside of her while she repeatedly tries to bury that notion in the ground. Recurrently throughout this novel, Meridian tries to discover past memories of her inner self once again as time goes by. Through the uses of characterization, symbolism, and tone, Walker portrays how Meridian fights to exploit the ambivalence hidden underneath the idealistic world despite the exploitation, violence, and guilt plaguing both her internal and physical well-being.
While living the life of a young African American activist residing in the Deep South, Meridian presents herself as an extremely complex character that cannot be defined by one simple definition or characteristic due to her ambivalence regarding everything from segregation, religion, and past family matters. The reader can easily imagine that Meridian’s life, occupied with powerfully repetitive callousness due to the exploitation of her ethnicity and the attitudes and thoughts of others, as well as herself, due to stances she pursues and chances she bravely takes, is extraordinarily challenging. As Walker’s portrayal of Meridian illustrates the exposed yet blurred reality that occurred in the 1960s, she also portrays other character’s attitudes toward her; “‘God!’ said Truman w...
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..., we’ve been a part of it, everybody’s been a part of it for a long time.’ ‘I know and you would just fly away, if you could.’” (pg 49).
The main characters described throughout Meridian are each contributing factors to the social overtones; and this helps the reader to fully understand the talent of Walker and her approach to social matters regarding the exploitation of violence in the races and the backbreaking guilt Meridian carried day to day. Nearing the end of the novel, the realization of strength versus weakness, and the effects that humanity has on each other induce Meridian to overcome her problematic, physical barrier and reach acceptance of herself as well as others around her; “All the people who are as alone as I am will one day gather at the river. We will watch the evening sun go down. And in the darkness maybe we will know the truth” (pg 242).
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