Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 1 Section 5 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Meridian | Part 1, Section 5 : Meridian (Gold) | Summary



This very short chapter tells of one incident in Meridian's life when she was seven years old. She finds what she identifies as "a bar of yellow gold," but no one in her family is impressed. So she buries it under a magnolia tree in the yard and eventually forgets that she ever found it in the first place.


The significance of this chapter can be interpreted in different ways. Walker might be saying that when a person's treasures—gifts or talents—are unrecognized and unappreciated, they are soon lost to the person. In the case of Meridian, the gifts are her creative talents: they are buried as if dead. Walker might mean that people kept down in life—as the Hills are—simply cannot take the time to believe good fortune might befall them.

The fact that Meridian buries the bullion under a magnolia tree should call to mind Louvinie's tongue. It was similarly buried beneath a scrawny magnolia that grew to become The Sojourner. The difference is that people chose to believe in Louvinie's magic, and this kept her gifts—and the tree—alive and growing. What Meridian buries is never believed in and so it is forgotten, making nothing better in the world as a result, despite its beauty and value.

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