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Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

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.