What Is The Theme Of Symbolism In Meridian By Alice Walker

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The years from 1954 to 1974 in the Americas were part of an era of change and action in many parts of American society. These years would go down in history as the one of the most dynamic in American history. It was a time of empowerment, breaking down of social barriers, and many more topics, which authors such as Alice Walker discussed as major parts of their works. In her novel Meridian, Walker criticizes society’s expectations of woman’s roles, showing support of individuality and independence of women during the Civil Rights Movement years through the unique viewpoints of different characters and the development of characters, as well as using significant symbols.
The deeper meanings of titles used in the story helps develop the structure
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The Sojourner was “the largest magnolia tree in the country” (28) that was believed to have had a slave’s tongue buried at its roots and was considered almost like a friend to Meridian. The tree represents suppression in the voices of not only African Americans, but of women as well. The tree’s history literally describes a story about a female slave that was physically stopped from speaking. In addition, Meridian is described to have argued to keep the tree standing and alive, but only for her voice to fall upon deaf ears. Meridian describes, after Wild Child’s death was not given the proper respect needed, that “[the] night, after The Wild Child was buried in an overgrown corner of a local black cemetery, students… rioted on Saxon campus for the first time… and the only thing they managed to destroy was The Sojourner” (39). Ironically, previously they had all fought to protect that tree from the administration of Saxon, who had planned to destroy the tree, and they ended up destroying it themselves. They destroyed their own opinions and voices, especially the voices of a female character. Not to mention, in a source found online, the magnolia tree’s flowers are usually associated with “nobility, perseverance”, and the “beauty of femininity and gentleness” (Baxamusa). In the Chinese language, the magnolia is literally “beautiful woman” (Gehrmann). Not only were women’s voices silenced in topics related to the tree, the botanical symbol of a woman was destroyed, showing Walker’s criticism for woman’s suppressed position in society. This regret for the loss is noted in the book’s forward by Black Elk, who says, “… the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead” (Meridian Foreword). The destruction of Sojourner is just like the sacred tree mentioned in the foreword, destroying the

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