4. “Your ambivalence will always be deplored by people who consider themselves revolutionists, and your unorthodox behavior will cause traditionalists to gnash their teeth,” said Truman, who was not, himself, concerned about either group.
This statement appears in the last chapter, “Release,” and clarifies Meridian’s elusive qualities and her mysterious, difficult-to-summarize nature. Meridian searches for meaning and acceptance in the civil rights movement, but she finds that even though her ardor comes naturally and she is able to make significant contributions, the group’s sensibilities do little to resolve her struggle for self-acceptance. At a gathering in New York City, Meridian refuses to avow her willingness to kill for the cause, despite being taunted, and Truman affirms that the thought of Meridian killing someone is ludicrous. Meridian finds she must extricate herself from such radical factions and pursue her own brand of social activism, returning to her roots in rural communities in Alabama and Georgia. Her methods of resistance are still unconventional, and she garners a sort of cult following as people feed and care for her. Her social actions are eventually labeled as “performances,” akin to a spiritual revival, in which Meridian concludes the event by collapsing from emotional and physical exhaustion, her illness once again sapping her strength. In the end, though, it is this unconventional and fiercely independent spirit that leads Meridian to self-salvation, health, and wholeness.