Walker’s second novel, Meridian, explores one black woman’s experience in the Civil Rights movement, the psychological makeup of which fascinates Walker more than the political and historical impact it had. Meridian exemplifies Walker’s ability to combine the personal and the political in fiction. Whereas Walker’s first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, moves chronologically, Meridian is constructed of smaller “chapters” that make up the novel, as Walker has said, much as pieces of cloth compose a quilt.
Meridian Hill grows up in the South, marries a high school boyfriend, becomes pregnant, and has a son. She experiences mixed feelings about motherhood, often fantasizing about killing the baby. After her husband leaves her, Meridian lives in emotional limbo, daydreaming and watching television—on which, one morning, she sees that the nearby house where the voter registration drives are organized has been bombed. She decides to volunteer to work with the movement, more out of curiosity about what the people are like than from any political ideology. One of the workers is Truman Held, a man with whom Meridian will have an ongoing, although stormy, relationship.
Because of her unusually high intelligence, Meridian is offered a scholarship to Saxon College, and when she discovers that Truman attends college in Atlanta, his potential proximity becomes a motivating factor in her decision to accept it. Against the protests of her mother, Meridian gives...
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