Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 2 Section 18 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Meridian | Part 2, Section 18 : Truman Held (The New York Times) | Summary



This chapter tells of a time three years after Truman and Lynne marry. On this occasion, Truman goes in search of Meridian and finds her in a small town in Alabama. He begs her to "give him another chance," but she will not. She cites Lynne and the daughter Truman and Lynne have together, Camara, as some of the reasons why. She is also wise enough to see that he only wants her now because she is black. It is no longer acceptable for African American men in the movement to be with white women.

As Truman feels the finality—and truth—of Meridian's words, he thinks through what has happened to his feelings for Lynne. The things that had drawn him to her are now things he does not like. In contrast, he now sees in Meridian "all the things lacking in Lynne."

But Meridian is ruthless in her denial of him. She reminds him that she was not at all what he wanted: a virgin who yet had "worldly experiences ... to match [his] own." Truman knows that her reproaches are justified. He also knows he will continue to leave Lynne "at every opportunity" and be "a few days in Meridian's presence."


The foreshadowing of Chapter 16, when Truman looks at Lynne and realizes the "hopeless feeling about opposites," has become reality now. He never intended to love Lynne "over a long period," but he is married to her and the father of her child.

From Truman's musings about Meridian in this chapter, readers learn new things about her. She is always "thinking of something else" instead of paying close attention to the people she is with at the time. She has "something dark" in her that makes people "feel condemned." And she has "a deceptive outer calm" that hides the fear she always feels. Her worst fearfulness has always been around sex because it is "fraught with ugly consequences for her."

Readers also learn more about Truman's character. He is even something of a bigot himself. He "had wanted a woman perfect in all the eyes of the world" even as he moves through the world arrogantly, often treating people cruelly.

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