An Angel in Disguise by T.S. Arthur
In An Angel in Disguise by T.S. Arthur we have the theme of kindness, gratitude, caring, change and happiness. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Arthur may be exploring the theme of kindness. Both Joe and Jane take Maggie into their home though she is crippled and pitied by others. Nobody else is prepared to do it and it is noticeable that Maggie brings a change in Jane’s life. No longer is she as cold as she had been despite initially wanting to see Maggie go to the poorhouse. It is as though Maggie is filling a void in Jane’s (and Joe’s) life with them having no children of their own. It may also be significant that the reason that nobody wishes to take care of Maggie is because they view her as a cripple and as such she will be unable to work and will need constant support. Support that Jane and Joe eventually understand they are capable of giving to Maggie. If anything both Jane and Joe become caring surrogate parents to Maggie and as far as the reader can tell Maggie is full of happiness in her new home. Having lived a life of near solitude while she lived with her siblings and her mother.
It is also interesting that Maggie is ostracized by others based solely on her physical disabilities. It is as though her neighbours are judging her because she is crippled and they can see her of being no practical use. This may be important as Arthur may be suggesting that some people place a value on a person’s life based solely on that person’s ability to perform some type of work. With it being clear to the reader that Maggie may never work in the traditional sense. Though she does have other attributes that will be of benefit to her. She is a grateful and appreciative child. Something that is clear to the reader while she is staying in Jane and Joe’s home. It is for this reason that the normally icy Jane most likely melts and falls in love with Maggie. She sees in Maggie what others refuse to see. As too does Joe who cannot abandon Maggie though initially Jane had instructed him to do so.
It may also be important that Maggie may never see her siblings again nor they may never visit her such is the predicament the children find themselves in. If anything there is a sense of not only change but isolation when Maggie’s mother dies. With Farmer Jones taking John and Mrs Ellis taking Kate. Though all three will live in the same village they will most likely grow up to have separate lives. It is also interesting that neither John nor Kate request that Maggie comes with them. Though some critics might suggest that both siblings are too young to understand the severity of what is happening. It is more likely that Maggie’s mother’s death or the death of any mother often meant that families where permanently separated against their wills in some cases. However this this does not seem to be the case in the story. Neither John nor Kate make any complaint when it comes to their respective new homes. Both John and Kate are fit and well and as such can be productive to Farmer Jones and Mrs Ellis. Maggie on the other hand in most people’s eyes is no more than a burden and as such should be sent to the poorhouse.
The end of the story is also interesting as it becomes clear to the reader that Jane as Joe had. Has gotten attached to Maggie. She is like the daughter that she never had and as such she does not wish to give her up. Which may explain the title of the story somewhat. For most people looking after Maggie would not only be a burden but a hindrance too. This is not the case for Jane or Joe. It is as though there is a new spark in their lives and that spark is Maggie. A young crippled girl who has so much love to offer that it may possibly overwhelm Jane due to the attachment that Jane develops when it comes to looking after Maggie. From the tragedy of losing her mother. Maggie has found a new mother who will love and take care of her as if she was her own child. If anything the future looks brighter for not only Maggie but for Jane and Joe too. They are a family now even if others might think that Maggie should still be sent to the poorhouse because she is of no benefit to others. Fortunately this is not how Jane and Joe view Maggie. Rather she is someone who has brought joy into their lives when they may have never thought it was possible.