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Meridian Essay, Research Paper
Meridian is set in the American South during the 1960s and early ’70s.
The heroine, Meridian, is a black woman from a southern town. She
marries, has a child, gets a divorce, sends her child away, and ends up
working in a voters’ registration campaign, encouraging
African-Americans to register. Meridian is different from her co-workers
in that she interacts with people as individuals, rather than by
stereotyping them. For example, while others lecture black families
about the importance of voting, Meridian sits and talks with them,
trying to address their basic needs of food, heat, and affection.
As years pass, her co-workers quit and move into comfortable houses. She
moves deeper south, living in whatever housing the community can afford
to give in exchange for her constant work on their behalf. Frequently,
after staging a rally or other event, Meridian develops partial
paralysis. She grows more and more ill. A halo-like light surrounds her
head as she thinks of the history of her people and of her role in that
history. She ultimately heals herself and moves to the next small town.
Commentary The novel takes a complicated look at black-white and black-black
relations. It seems inadequate in this novel either to see people solely
in terms of race or solely in terms of individual personalities. A large
section of the novel deals with a marriage between a white woman and a
black man. Walker seems to support an ethics based on personal
interaction more than on universal rules.
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