Meridian, By Alice Walker Essay

999 words - 4 pages

The women of the late sixties, although some are older than others, in Alice Walker’s fiction that exhibit the qualities of the developing, emergent model are greatly influenced through the era of the Civil Rights Movement. Motherhood is a major theme in modern women’s literature, which examines as a sacred, powerful, and spiritual component of the woman’s life. Alice Walker does not choose Southern black women to be her major protagonists only because she is one, but because she had discovered in the tradition and history they collectively experience an understanding of oppression that has been drawn from them a willingness to reject the principle and to hold what is difficult. Walker’s most developed character, Meridian, is a person who allows “an idea no matter where it came from to penetrate her life.” Meridian’s life is rooted under the curiosity of what is the morally right thing to do, at the right time and place. Meridian pursues a greatness amount of power, which is based upon her individualistic and personal view of herself as a mother. She looks for answers from her family, especially the heritage by her maternal ancestors, and seeks her identity through traditions passed on to her by Southern black women. In exploring the primacy of motherhood, African-American writer Alice Walker’s novel, Meridian, shifted the angle of seeing from the female perspective how the certain experiences affect their interpretations of motherhood.
Walker analyzes tradition and values under the historic myth of black motherhood, a myth solely based on true stories of the sacrifices black mothers performed for their children. Motherhood is often defined as a habitual set of feelings and behaviors that is switched on by pregnancy and the birth of a baby. It is an experience that is said to be profoundly shaped by social context and culture (FPS). Meridian’s quest for wholeness and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement is initiated by her feelings of failure in living up to the standards of black motherhood. Meridian gives up her son because she believes she will destroy his growth with guilt and she has her tubes tied after a painful abortion (pg. 133). Walker investigated the idea of an African-American structure of motherhood, as she develops the protagonist, Meridian, who at first believes she cannot properly fulfill the responsibility.
The author entered the conflict about the value of motherhood in which American feminists were then, as they are now, engaged. Motherhood is also seen as a moral transformation, as a woman comes to terms with being different in that she ceases to be an independent individual because she is one way or the other attached to another her baby (FPS). Barbara Christian writes that Walker combines the forces of traditional and feminist perspectives on motherhood, attempting a compromise that would allow the protagonist to survive:
As many radical feminists blamed motherhood for the waste in women's lives...

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