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Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 1 Section 11 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Meridian | Part 1, Section 11 : Meridian (Awakening) | Summary



One month after Eddie leaves her and Meridian learns of the firebombing, she walks into a house to volunteer for the civil rights movement. The local leader, named Swinburn, immediately puts her to work typing. Meridian is not a very good typist, but she does her best and is clearly already useful. This is also the day she first meets Truman Held.


Meridian has found a purpose in life and has woken up out of her lethargy. Readers should note two things about her initial day "on the job."

First, there is a lot of work to be done, and everybody seems willing to do whatever they can, to learn whatever they can, to help accomplish it. So if she is looking for a purpose, she has come to the right place.

Second, her first impression of Truman should be remembered. She views him as sophisticated, "wonderfully noble." He speaks French to her, which—along with the way he is dressed—fits in with the way he likes to be perceived. Meridian buys into it, saying he is like an Ethiopian warrior.

Meridian has never cared much about her own physical appearance, but she does seem to notice the details of how others look. She knows that Feather Mae's good looks were one thing that made people tolerant of her. She has admitted that Eddie's handsomeness was fine to her at first. When characters in the novel are described from her point of view, the first descriptions are always of how they look, especially the color of their skin. Even people with the highest intentions to pursue fairness and justice for all—people like Meridian—are unable to be blind to how people look. How dark a person's black skin is, for example, is pertinent to how that person is treated—both by other African Americans and by whites. How we all initially respond to a person is, sadly, often based on what we see instead of what we know about someone.

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