Discussion Topic

Maniac's motivations and the outcomes of bringing Mars Bar to the party and the West End in Maniac Magee

Summary:

Maniac's motivation for bringing Mars Bar to the party and the West End is to bridge racial divides and foster understanding between different communities. The outcomes include Mars Bar gaining a new perspective on the West End and its residents, while the neighborhood begins to see Mars Bar as more than just a stereotype, promoting mutual respect and acceptance.

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Why did Maniac bring Mars Bar to the party in Maniac Magee, and what was achieved?

When Piper invited Maniac to his birthday party, he agrees on one condition.  He has a “zany” idea.  He tells them he will come if he can bring someone.  The someone he has in mind is Mars Bar.  The McNabs would never expect him to bring a black boy to the party, and they tell him to bring whoever he wants. 

Maniac has a plan.  He doesn’t understand the racial divide in Two Mills.  He wants people of both races to see that there is no difference between people. 

Whites never go inside blacks' homes. Much less inside their thoughts and feelings. And blacks are just as ignorant of whites. What white kid could hate blacks after spending five minutes in the Beales' house? And what black kid could hate whites after answering Mrs. Pickwell's dinner whistle? (Ch. 41) 

Maniac first brings Mars Bar to the Pickwell house so he can see “the best the West End had to offer.”  Mars Bar is a big hit there.  He is polite, and the Pickwell kids love having him. 

The little Pickwells made as much fuss over Mars Bar as over Maniac. They believed, as did all little kids in the West End, that he carried a hundred Mars Bars with him at all times. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Pickwell never batted an eye when she saw who was coming to dinner. (Ch. 41) 

On the way to the McNab house, Mars Bar demonstrates his feat of stopping traffic.  It is also a big hit.  Things are going well until they get to the McNab house.

The McNabs and Cobras are unrepentant racists.  George McNab demands to know what Mars Bar is doing at the party.  Piper breaks the tension when he asks for his birthday present, but the Cobras do not talk to Mars Bar and George says to tell him when "it" leaves. 

Despite George’s rudeness to Mars Bar, Mars Bar tolerates them until a fight breaks out when Mars Bar insults the McNab house's smell.  Maniac prevents them from fighting.   They leave, and Mars Bar demands to know why Maniac subjected him to the McNabs.

"You suckered me. You soften me up with them Pick-peoples, then bring me here.  Wha'd you think! I was gonna cry Okay, I come over. I did it. It's done. And don't YOU be comin' 'round no more, ya hear me, fish! 'Cause you ain't only seen me half bad yet." (Ch. 41) 

Maniac realizes that he should not have expected a miracle.  It would have been better to just bring Mars Bar to the Pickwells and leave it at that.  You can’t change deep-seated beliefs overnight.  So while Maniac might not have changed the McNabs, he did show the Pickwells that everyone is the same, and gave Mars Bar something to think about too.

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Why did Maniac bring Mars Bar to the West End, and was his plan successful in Maniac Magee?

Maniac wants Mars Bar to see that blacks and whites are the same, and the plan is successful because Mars Bar has a good time.

Maniac’s idea to bring Mars Bar to Piper’s birthday party is to show both Mars Bar and the McNabs that there really is not that much difference between the blacks and the whites. In Two Mills, everything is East End and West End. Maniac wants to unite the two.

They did not go straight to the McNabs'. First they went to the Pickwells'. Maniac wanted Mars Bar to see the best the West End had to offer. (Ch. 41)

The McNabs are not expecting Maniac to bring a black kid, but Mrs. Pickwell “never batted an eye when she saw who was coming to dinner.” The dinner seems to go well, and little Dolly McNab even calls Mars Bar “Mr. Bar.” Mars Bar’s expression doesn’t change throughout the dinner.

Even if Mars wasn't letting on, Maniac could tell he was pleased to learn his fame had spread to the West. When they left, half the Pickwell kids followed them, begging Mars to perform his legendary feat of stopping traffic. (Ch. 41) 

Mars Bar is able to stop traffic just like he does in the East End. This impresses the Pickwell kids and makes Maniac happy, because he feels he has accomplished what he sought out to do. He has shown Mars Bar and the West Enders that everyone can get along.

Maniac may not have accomplished anything earth-shattering, but he did help both sides take baby steps. As far as Maniac was concerned, Mars Bar was happy with the way things turned out. That was good enough for Maniac. He was trying to prove that he was friends with everyone regardless of race, and they could get to know each other too.

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Why did Maniac bring Mars Bars to the West End? Was his plan successful?

Maniac wanted to bring the West Enders and East Enders together. He felt that their ignorance about one another had led to animosity. Maniac himself had experienced this when he lived with the Beale family in the East End. A few people had wanted him to leave because he was white. In the West End, Maniac saw the hatred that the McNab family showed toward the black residents of the East End. Maniac wondered:

"What white kid could hate blacks after spending five minutes in the Beales' house? And what black kid could hate whites after answering Mrs. Pickwell's dinner whistle?"

Maniac decided to get Mars Bar to come to the West End. He practically dared him to go. Mars Bar finally stepped over the invisible border and into the West End. First, Maniac took Mars Bar to the Pickwell house for dinner. The Pickwell family welcomed Mars Bar, and his visit was a positive experience.

Next, Maniac took Mars Bar to the McNab house. The welcome there was not warm. George McNab made it clear that he did not want Mars Bar to be there because he was black. He even called him "it." The McNab family and the Cobras made it clear that Mars Bar was not welcomed. John McNab called him "sonny boy." Mars Bar became angry and went back to the East End. Maniac's plan to bring everyone together did not work. Mars Bar had enjoyed being around the Pickwell family, but he felt that Maniac had "suckered [him.]"

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