At one time or another, almost all of us, as children or adults, have encountered a bully or bullies. A bully can threaten us verbally or physically. The damage a bully does not only can hurt the body, but also have a lasting impact on the mind, heart, and soul.
As we all know, bullies have existed throughout time. They seek to gain power over others through physical violence, threats, humiliation, and other tactics.
And so, it should not be surprising when bullies show up in the Saint Maggie series. Most notably they are found in Seeing the Elephant in the persons of Josiah Norton and Jimmy McCartney.
Let’s look at Jimmy first – or more aptly, little Bob Smith’s struggle with Jimmy.
Here’s how the problem is introduced.
Eli was raised in a Quaker household. Members of the Religious Society of Friends embrace pacifism as a way of life. Despite the fact that Eli no longer is part of a Meeting, the Quaker beliefs instilled in him by his mother still are very much with him. He hates war, even though in 1863 he served as a correspondent in the war. He despises violence and is ready to stop it from happening – sometimes at the expense of his own safety.
But now his son has been beaten up by another boy. How is he going to handle that? What is he going to say?
Eli gives Bob three options: 1) walk away; 2) protect yourself; or 3) stand your ground. Does the boy follow his advice? We don’t find out until near the end of the book.
After Eli has been sidelined by an injury after trying to stop a fight, Bob comes to visit him in the front parlor where he is recovering. It is there that Bob reveals he has had another encounter with the infamous Jimmy McCartney.
I think Eli is right. When dealing with a bully, we should do everything we can to avoid violence or abuse, but if there is no other option, we need to act, even if sometimes it means we must fight back.
How does Eli himself deal with bullies? On Wednesday, we’ll watch him in action with the town’s new industrialist, Josiah Norton.