Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 2 Section 22 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Course Hero, "Meridian Study Guide," March 16, 2018, accessed September 18, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Meridian/.

Meridian | Part 2, Section 22 : Truman Held (Lynne) | Summary

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Summary

This chapter identifies the man who raped Lynne, the man she had tried to tell Meridian about. That man is Tommy Odds, and the rape occurs after he is shot and becomes filled with hate toward white people. The rape is cold-hearted and brutal: He yanks at her hair, lifting her by it at one point; he pinches her nipples; and orders her to say and do things that make her cry.

As Tommy enters Lynne, she stops resisting and tries to think of him as her friend, feeling guilty for how damaged he has become. She hugs him at the end, and as he leaves, she kisses the stump of his arm.

The next day Tommy comes with three young men that Lynne knows. They are friends she has made at the community center: Altuna, Raymond, and Hedge. His sadistic idea is that he will tell them he has had sex with Lynne, that she enjoyed it, and that they can have her, too. However, all three young men are horrified by the way Tommy talks to Lynne and the fact that he has raped her. Tommy says, "Crackers been raping your mamas and sisters for generations and here's your chance to get off on a piece of their goods."

When the boys leave, Tommy tries to rape Lynne again. However, he is impotent. So he spits in her face, urinates on the floor, and leaves.

Lynne is unable to tell Truman about the rape. She does not go to the police, either, because she is afraid they will take it out on the young men she has befriended. She packs to leave, but Truman does not want her to go. Finally, in hysterics, she tells him what has happened, but he refuses to believe her.

However, Truman does ask Tommy Odds why he has done this horrible thing. Tommy mocks him, saying Lynne "didn't even fight." Furiously, Truman wishes he could "destroy" Tommy for what he has done and said. Truman says Lynne just felt too sorry for him to resist. Tommy responds that Lynne has only been with Truman to atone for the sins of white people.

Meanwhile, Lynne cries in her sleep nightly, and Truman cannot bear to be around her. Lynne is left alone, unable even to help in the community anymore. Hedge, Altuna, and Raymond keep coming to visit her, and she finally allows them to come in. Then she begins to have an affair with Altuna's brother, and her house once again becomes a place where people gather. However, the African American men begin taking advantage of her, one by one, and she allows them all to have sex with her. The women of these men are outraged and threaten her; some attack her.

Eventually, the men all get enough of Lynne and she is alone again. Truman comes by every now and then, and she soon becomes pregnant with Camara. She leaves to return to New York City, where she lives on welfare.

Analysis

When Tommy Odds rapes Lynne, he is playing out the sexual fantasies he had about her when they first met. That is when she was just another white woman to him, an object rather than a real person. He holds her up by her hair. He forces her to do things and is in total control of her.

Lynne seems to understand what has changed in Tommy. She acknowledges he hates her now and that she has no value to him as a person. She sees that he has no feelings of guilt about trying to destroy her, and this shakes her to her core. She cannot bear for all black men to hate her just because she is white, so she allows them to have sex with her.

As the African American women begin to hate Lynne too, she mocks them by taking down her long hair and shaking it around as it falls to her waist. She feels she possesses "treasures they could never have."

Truman cannot handle any of this. At the end of the chapter, he does what he has always done—he goes to find Meridian for validation.

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