full title Meridian
author Alice Walker
type of work Novel
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.
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.
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