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Roberta asserts that Maggie didn't fall in the orchard, but rather, was pushed by the older girls.Later, at the height of their argument over school busing, Robert claims that she and Twyla participated, too, in kicking Maggie.Is it asking what happened to her while they were there, given that their memories conflict? Or is it a larger question, asking what happened not just to Maggie, but to Twyla, Roberta, and their mothers?
Morrison's quick, powerful narrative style and hard-hitting ending draw the reader in as she examines varying shades of skin tone, perception, and interpretation. How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift? For the young Twyla, as she watched the "gar girls" kick Maggie, Maggie was her mother — stingy and unresponsive, neither hearing Twyla nor communicating anything important to her.Just as Maggie resembles a child, Twyla's mother seems incapable of growing up.The older girls exploit Maggie's vulnerability, mocking her.Even Twyla and Roberta call her names, knowing she can't protest and half-convinced she can't even hear them.As Twyla and Roberta encounter each other sporadically through the years, their memories of Maggie seem to play tricks on them.One remembers Maggie as black, the other as white, but eventually, neither feels sure.She yells that Twyla "kicked a poor old black lady when she was down on the ground...You kicked a black lady who couldn't even scream." Twyla finds herself less troubled by the accusation of violence — she feels confident that she would never have kicked anyone — than by the suggestion that Maggie was black, which undermines her confidence completely.She is like something parenthetical, an aside, cut off from the things that really matter.Maggie is also mute, incapable of making herself heard.