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Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 1 Section 8 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Meridian | Part 1, Section 8 : Meridian (The Happy Mother) | Summary



Despite what the chapter title says, Meridian is far from a happy mother. How she is described in this chapter points to a clear case of postpartum depression. She does not care about her son and thinks of taking his life and her own. She detaches entirely from the world, including Eddie, and the only real feeling she experiences is resentment.

Eddie does not stay with her for long, so she is a single mother before the baby is a year old. Her lethargy is not affected by his leaving. The only thing that catches her attention is the news she learns about a voter drive in their town intended to register African Americans. Coincidentally, on the day Eddie leaves her, Meridian walks by the house where the voter drive will take place. Then she learns that the house is destroyed by firebombs.


That Meridian feels cut off from the world after having a baby is part of one of the novel's themes. The oppression experienced by young mothers is real. Unwanted pregnancies often equal dead lives and the loss of promise.

However, Meridian is not totally dead to the world. She links the news of the firebombing to her dream of the night before about Native Americans. The narrator says, "[O]ne day in the middle of April in 1960 Meridian Hill became aware of the past and present of the larger world." Meridian is not done living; she is just beginning to sense the greater mission that she will take on in the world. She, like her father, cannot accept injustice and will do what she can to help resolve it.

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