And, what, if anything, do our answers to these questions suggest to us about the struggles of building bridges across divides in America? What makes it possible for us to connect to others? How do we connect with those who are different from us? Is your sense of individual identity ever in conflict with your community? 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?
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.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.At Howard Johnson's, Roberta symbolically "kicks" Twyla by treating her coldly and laughing at her lack of sophistication.And over the years, the memory of Maggie becomes a weapon that Roberta uses against Twyla.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.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.Maggie had been brought up in an institution, just like Roberta's mother, so she must have presented a frightening vision of Roberta's possible future.To see the older girls kick Maggie — the future Roberta didn’t want — must have seemed like exorcising a demon.