Literature Study GuidesMeridianPart 3 Section 27 Summary

Meridian | Study Guide

Alice Walker

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Meridian | Part 3, Section 27 : Ending (Questions) | Summary

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Summary

This chapter opens with a conversation. It is a few lines before readers learn that it is a conversation between Truman and Meridian. It is pages before readers learn this conversation occurs at Chicokema, where the novel began.

Truman and Meridian are talking about the revolutionary turn the civil rights movement took in the 1960s. It is clear Meridian is still wrestling with the decision she made some 10 years ago—that she could not say she will kill in order to bring about civil rights. Truman calls her struggle over this "useless."

The conversation and narrative are interrupted by the telling of a heroic thing Meridian did earlier in the town. She had protested the fact that city officials closed the pool once the law said black children must be allowed to swim in it. This action left the African American children nowhere to cool off in the hot summers except "the pool"—a ditch in their neighborhood that fills with rainwater. The problem is that this "pool" rapidly floods during rainy seasons and each year children drown in it. Just after Meridian arrives in Chicokema, she takes the dead body of a five-year-old boy who drowned in the "pool" to the mayor's office during a town meeting. She places it on the table in front of the office as a sign of her protest of this unfairness. Many of the town's African Americans follow her in and out of the meeting, and they catch her when she falls into a state of paralysis. They offer her everything, but all she asks is that they register to vote so that they can begin to have a voice in what happens in their community.

The house where Meridian lives—and where Truman has joined her once again in the civil rights movement—is kept up by the townspeople. They also feed her and follow her lead to try to make their lives better.

Analysis

The title of this chapter, "Questions," is apt. It shows that whatever stirrings Meridian felt in her soul in 1968, during Dr. King's, are still not resolved.

Meridian has long been tortured with the idea of killing as part of fairness. Truman, like many others in the movement, had once readily yelled "Death to honkies." However, he never actually intended to kill anyone. He dismisses the whole idea of this revolutionary aspect of the movement as a fad. For Meridian, the issue is not so clear. She explains: "[A]ll of us who want the black and poor to have equal opportunities and goods in life will have to ask ourselves how we stand on killing." She concludes, "Otherwise we will never know ... how much we are willing to give up."

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