What are the differences between Maniac Magee and Grayson in Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee?
The biggest difference between Maniac and Grayson is that Manic is a kid and Grayson is an old man. Despite this, the two become good friends. Grayson also does not know how to read, something very important to Maniac, so Maniac teaches him. Finally, a person’s skin color means nothing to Maniac, but Grayson marvels at Manaic’s staying with the Beales.
Grayson is an ex-baseball player. He is now the groundskeeper at the zoo. Grayson is a kind soul. He finds Maniac sleeping in the buffalo pen and decides to take care of him. Although the two are very different, they have in common their love of baseball and that they are good people.
When Maniac tells Grayson that he does not go to school, Grayson does not object. He is surprised to learn that Maniac was living with a black family. He even checks to make sure that Maniac really is white, because he is very dirty when Grayson first sees him.
Grayson stared out the diner window, as if digesting this information. "How 'bout meatloaf?"
"They eat that, too?"
"Sure, meatloaf too. And peas. And corn. You name it."
Maniac beamed. "Oh, man! You kidding! Mrs. Beale makes the best cakes in the world." (Ch. 24)
Grayson is not a racist, he is just an old man set in his ways. Things are the way they are, and he never thought to question them. Unlike Maniac, he does not really associate with people of other races. Maniac shows him that race really is not a big deal. The Beales are just like any white family.
Maniac also teaches Grayson to read. The old man never really got a chance, but Maniac is a patient and gentle teacher and he makes good progress. In this way, Grayson soon comes to like books as much as Maniac does.