Long Stemmed Roses By Alice Walker

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Long-Stemmed Roses In Alice Walker’s Meridian, she tells the story of the slave Louvinie who buried her tongue, that her white slave masters cut out, beneath a weak magnolia tree on a slave plantation. Walker’s character, Meridian follows suit by laying the decomposing body of five-year-old boy that drowned due to the city commissioner’s neglect, in front of a representative of the racist hierarchy. These stories follow a classic Alice Walker theme, “when they torture you too bad to talk plant a tree” (Torture). Meridian carries the body of the boy like flowers to a gravesite, and teaches us to use our experiences to invest in our future, as an opportunity to grow stronger. One of the things that Alice Walker looks to address in many of her writings is what to do with the terrible reality of our past and how we settle that fear and hope for our future. In several stories she suggests the action of burying our suffering in the form of a seed, which can act as a lesson, a donation, nourishment and provide relief. When Louvinie’s tongue was cut off it was “a curse of her native land” not place it someplace special, so she took her tongue and “smoked it until it was as soft and as pliable as leather” (34). To save her soul she buried the tongue beneath a weak Magnolia tree and “the subsequent creative transferal of her power, proves to be a more practical alternative for Meridian to follow than images of black women speaking out” (Pifer 74). Often Meridian’s “performances” are silent like staring down the tank in Chicokema and placing the body beside the mayor and his gavel. In Walker’s poem “For Two Who” she attempts to find peace with another injustice: her great-great-grandmother who was raped as a child and with the white man who... ... middle of paper ... ...vist Medgar Evers was assassinated, planted a wild sweet shrub bush in the gardens at Saxon College and when she carried the body of the five-year-old boy “it was as if she carried a large bouquet of long-stemmed roses” (209). As if she was taking flowers to a grave of a government that failed them. There is hope in this action, even though the child’s life was forcefully taken from them, Meridian asks for change. She gives it to the governor so he and his white community can see the reality of their loss. Meridian is a tree planted by Alice Walker, she allows the readers to enter the intimate life of her characters, seeing them as whole, vulnerable beings so that her readers can understand what life can be like for a black woman. With Meridian we learn how to accept the truth, mourn our losses, while painfully and optimistically taking the next step towards change.

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