Marxism in Literature

The novel at the center of our latest class discussion by Alice Walker, Meridian, is a gem of a book that I have found deeply thought-provoking as well as an overall invigorating read. The protagonist, Meridian, has been a mystery that is gradually unfolding as I reach the end. Her values and morals as a Civil Rights Worker in the southern region of the USA fit smoothly into her station, and they are relatively clear to the reader, as Meridian is an astounding thinker. It is when she has a fleeting conversation with her close college friend, Anne-Marion, that we are introduced to Meridian’s perspective on Socialist and Communist theories, which have been significantly contributed to by the ideas of Karl Marx.

Meridian has a profound admiration of these theories (Walker 122). She shows clear support of such theories in not only her general attitude, but in her academics, as she says that her senior thesis is based around such ideals (122). It is interesting that Alice Walker includes this brief scene, as it is a more defined tip-of-the-hat to Karl Marx, who is discussed in Joe Moran’s Interdisciplinarity chapter 4.

Moran emphasizes Marxism and its notion that, “historical events were mediated, transformed and articulated in in literary and cultural texts” (112). This is notably accurate while we, as a class, have been looking at texts like Meridian and Jean Toomer’s Cane. Walker’s novel is grounded in the Civil Rights Movement while Toomer’s piece is based in the Post Reconstruction Era, and both have significant, vital ties with their respective historical contexts. Jean Toomer was able to craft careful, creative narratives out of the tone of the 1920s, decisively centered on the African American experience. This intent is also very prevalent in Walker’s novel, as she attempts to capture the fluttering heartbeat of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement. I find it essential, therefore, that classes are structured to analyze texts in hand with this, as it is done in Reader and Text.

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