full title · Meridian
author · Alice Walker
type of work · Novel
genre · Womanistbildungsroman
language · English
time and place written · Mid-1970s
date of first publication · 1976
publisher · Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
narrator · The narrator is anonymous, describing the action in a simple, declarative manner.
point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person, moving around in time and focusing on a variety of characters. The narrator relates the action omnisciently, offering personal glimpses into characters’ private thoughts and presenting interpretations of their motives.
tone · The tone of the work is detached, offering distant yet impassioned glimpses of characters’ lives, presenting Meridian and her friends with dignity and sympathy.
tense · Past
setting (time) · 1950s through 1976
setting (place) · Various locations in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi; Chicokema, Atlanta’s Saxon College; various small communities; New York City
protagonist · Meridian Hill
major conflict · Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Meridian struggles to define herself and resolve her ambiguous relationship with her mother.
rising action · Meridian searches for self-acceptance and self-knowledge while finding a role for herself in college life and then in the civil rights movement.
climax · Meridian rebuilds her life and restores her faith in social progress through activism and voter registration in small communities in Alabama and Georgia.
falling action · Finally in good health, Meridian embraces an unknown future with confidence.
themes · The difficulty of idealism; the interconnection of past and present
motifs · Physical frailty; meridian
symbols · The Wild Child; the tank; the Sojourner; the Sacred Serpent Mound
foreshadowing · The Wild Child anticipates the disheveled state in which Truman finds Meridian, living a bare existence bordering on poverty.