Maggie Marshalls Characters

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There is Confusion follows the lives of Peter Bye, Joanna Marshall, and Maggie Ellersley as they grow up and pursue both professional and personal satisfaction. Peter hails from a respected Black family in Philadelphia formerly owned by Whites, but is raised by his aunt after his father spent all of his family’s money, became an alcoholic, and died. He first meets Joanna and Maggie when he is placed in the former’s fifth grade class, and, after a series of missteps, eventually becomes a World War I veteran, a doctor, and Joanna’s husband. Throughout the novel, Peter is depicted as a confident, highly intelligent man, having vast amounts of knowledge on anatomy as a fifth grader. Despite this, Peter struggles internally with his father’s belief…show more content…
However, she is arguably the one who undergoes the biggest transformation throughout the story. Born to a single mother from a working class family, Maggie experienced hardships Joanna never faced, and as such is constantly seeking a “way out” of her humble surroundings. Her first opportunity to do so comes in the shape of Sylvia Marshall, Joanna’s older sister, who becomes her best friend when they are very young. Through the Marshalls, Maggie gets to experience the life she always dreamed about, which solidifies her goal of improving her social standing and providing security for herself and her mother. She finds herself falling for Phillip, Joanna and Sylvia’s brother, but Joanna, believing that Maggie and her humble origins were not good enough for Philip, writes her a strongly-written letter that leads Maggie to run away from New York and marry one of her mother’s boarders, Henderson Neal: “Marriage with Neal was not what she wanted, but it represented to her security, a home for herself and her mother, freedom from all the little nagging worries that beset the woman who fights her own way through the world” (Fauset 90). Upon her separation from Neal, Maggie goes through a series of events that eventually lead her to gaining her own financial independence, almost marrying Peter, volunteering as a nurse during World War I and reuniting with her beloved

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