African-American Literature, M

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Many comparisons can be drawn between the novels Meridian, by Alice Walker, and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. The protagonists of both books are African-American females searching in a confused, bewildered world. Meridian is the story of the title character?s life from childhood to the Civil Rights Movement while Eyes chronicle Janie?s ever-evolving character from life with a white family in the Deep South to her return ?home? to Eatonville. Meridian and Janie?s constant need to identify and connect with their community while maintaining a sense of self-actualization drives main character development and catalyzes many important events in both works.

An important key in the cultural heritage and upbringing of both women were their respective maternal figures. Janie?s Nanny and Meridian?s mother were the key figures in their early cultural and self awareness. These two women attempted to mold Janie and Meridian in their own images; the only images they knew.

Meridian?s mother was a product of the southern culture around the time Janie would have lived. She lived as a schoolteacher in her young adult years. She simply fell into the cultural trap of love and marriage. Walker describes the ?love? Meridian?s mother felt as ?toleration for his (Meridian?s father?s) habits ?(50). This woman had no want of children. She was completely unprepared for what they would mean to her life. Children shattered Meridian?s mother. Meridian would have loved for her mother to break the bonds of society like her great-grandmother Feather Mae, who ?loved walking nude about the yard and worshipped only the sun.? But, her mother fell into the southern rut. This rut included never talking about sex. Meridian, believing the subject taboo, never spoke of it either. Just as in Eyes, it was one of those things that everyone did, but no...