Why couldn't Maniac go up on the trestle to save Russell?

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Readers should look to chapters 1, 44, and 45 for this answer. Maniac is called in to help save Russell in chapter 44, and the chapter ends with Maniac seeing the bridge and walking away. He doesn't say anything, but savvy readers should remember chapter one's explanation of how his...

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Readers should look to chapters 1, 44, and 45 for this answer. Maniac is called in to help save Russell in chapter 44, and the chapter ends with Maniac seeing the bridge and walking away. He doesn't say anything, but savvy readers should remember chapter one's explanation of how his parents were killed in a railway accident on a bridge.

On the way back home, they were on board when the P & W had its famous crash, when the motorman was drunk and took the high trestle over the Schuylkill River at sixty miles an hour, and the whole kaboodle took a swan dive into the water.

Russell is stranded on that very same bridge, but nobody knows this about Maniac and his past. Chapter 45 then begins with Mars Bar tracking down Maniac Magee. Mars Bar wants an explanation as to why Maniac didn't help out. Mars knows that Maniac is next to fearless, so not saving Russell is completely out of character. Maniac then explains the death of his parents to Mars Bar. Maniac explains that seeing the bridge from that new angle brought all of the memories of his parents roaring back, and Maniac was simply not equipped to handle the emotional overload and rescue Russell.

Maniac told him the story of his parents' death. He told about his problem with the trestle, how he had learned to avoid it. "And then, all of a sudden, there I was, on the platform, looking out at it, closer to it than I ever was before, up on the same level. I always saw it from below before. Now I was up there, too, where they were, looking down, and it was more real than ever. The nightmare was worse than ever. I saw the trolley coming...I saw it.. f-falling. them. them. ."

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This is what Mars Bar wants to know at the end of the story. Maniac's fearlessness has reached mythic proportion, so it's quite a mystery why he didn't rescue Russell from the train trestle. As Mars Bar says, "Listen, man, I know you wasn't scared. I know it."

Remember how the story begins, with the death of Maniac's parents in a tragic trolley car accident. The accident occurred on the very same trestle Russell has wandered out on, and in that accident, the trolley car plunged off the bridge into the river. Because of those terrible memories, Maniac has avoided that place for years. He confides in Mars Bar that when he saw the trestle, it made "the nightmare worse than ever." So he ran, just as he ran most of his childhood.

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