Themes and Meanings
Walker’s treatment of the self-discovery theme is perhaps one of the most complete in contemporary literature. While many authors focus on liberating the self from recognizably tangible obstacles, Walker has her protagonist confront two little-understood and painfully acknowledged social conditions—racism and sexism—and she deals with the themes in a sophisticated manner, linking them in such a way as to reveal important crosscurrents. Walker also explores the problem of guilt created and sustained by mothers as a means of controlling and protecting daughters, and she exposes early motherhood as a barrier to self-discovery. That she deals with these issues without seeming didactic in any way is a mark of her artistry. Meridian is remarkable in another significant way: Walker’s vision transcends both racial and sexual barriers as she forces her characters to go beyond the boundaries of the black community to see themselves in relation to the white community as well. In this manner, she has her female protagonists travel in the fullest sense—by exploring their personal and racial past in order to create a future without racial barriers.