How are the West End and the East End similar and different in Maniac Magee?

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Two Mills is a town that is divided into East End and West End. The dividing line is Hector street, and Hector street has an east side and a west side. It's as if there is an "invisible chalk line" right down the middle of the street. What is unfortunate is that the only thing that is different in the east and west parts of town is the race that lives in each area. The East End is for the black people, and the West End is for the white people.

Hector Street was the boundary between the East and West Ends. Or, to put it another way, between the blacks and whites. Not that you never saw a white in the East End or a black in the West End. People did cross the line now and then, especially if they were adults, and it was daylight.

Other than the racial differences, East End and West End are a lot alike. Both sides of town have people who care for Maniac, and both sides of town have people who want nothing to do with Maniac. The socioeconomic status of both sides is similar as well. Two Mills is a fairly run-down and poor town, and the average education level of both sides is similar, too. We are told that Maniac is colorblind when it comes to racial issues, and that is why he simply can't see a difference between the West End and the East End. To Maniac, there aren't any differences.

Maniac Magee was blind. Sort of. [. . .] Maniac kept trying, but he still couldn't see it, this color business. He didn't figure he was white any more than the East Enders were black.

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The fictional town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania is segregated along racial lines. The West End is exclusively white; the East End is exclusively black. There's very little in the way of social interaction between the two parts of town. As Maniac Magee is a stranger in town, the racial differences in Two Mills don't mean anything to him, and so he's able to pass back and forth between the West and East End without too much difficulty. He certainly has no hesitation in staying with the Beale family, for example.

Despite a glaringly obvious difference between the two areas, there are also similarities. For one thing, they've both seen better days. Two Mills is a struggling industrial town whose heyday has long since gone. Though separated by race, the West Enders and the East Enders share a fierce pride in their respective communities. They may not have much, but they do have a strong sense of place, which makes a big impression on a homeless orphan like Maniac.

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