History/GWS 249 Reading Guide

Women and Civil Rights

  • Alice Walker, Meridian (1976), finish.


  • How does Walker structure the book?  Why?  Why does she tell the story in a non-linear way?  What does she accomplish by weaving back and forth through time, both in the present and in the past?
  • Why was activism so important to Meridian?  Was Meridian fighting for choices or for rights?  What is the difference?  What does “voice” mean in this book and this context?
  • While the events and the people who defined the moment provide the context for the book, is this a book about the Movement?  Within the context of the Movement, where did Walker think women’s energies and identities should go?
  • Consider black women’s double oppression—racism and sexism.  What are the parallels between these?  Consider the various dualisms with which Walker’s characters struggle:  black women v. black men; black women v. white women.  Does Walker resolve the various conflicting relationships in the book?  What kind of future does the story predict?