Meridian is set in the American South during the 1960s and early '70s. The heroine, Meridian, is a black woman from a southern town. She marries, has a child, gets a divorce, sends her child away, and ends up working in a voters' registration campaign, encouraging African-Americans to register. Meridian is different from her co-workers in that she interacts with people as individuals, rather than by stereotyping them. For example, while others lecture black families about the importance of voting, Meridian sits and talks with them, trying to address their basic needs of food, heat, and affection.

As years pass, her co-workers quit and move into comfortable houses. She moves deeper south, living in whatever housing the community can afford to give in exchange for her constant work on their behalf. Frequently, after staging a rally or other event, Meridian develops partial paralysis. She grows more and more ill. A halo-like light surrounds her head as she thinks of the history of her people and of her role in that history. She ultimately heals herself and moves to the next small town.


The novel takes a complicated look at black-white and black-black relations. It seems inadequate in this novel either to see people solely in terms of race or solely in terms of individual personalities. A large section of the novel deals with a marriage between a white woman and a black man. Walker seems to support an ethics based on personal interaction more than on universal rules.



Place Published

New York



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