The Ultimate Choice That Actually Existed: Typhoid Mary
The Ultimate Choice That Actually Existed: Typhoid Mary (実在した究極の選択『腸チフスのメアリー』 Jitsuzai-shita Kyūkyoku no Sentaku "Chō-Chifusu no Mearī") is the fourth chapter of The Lives of Eccentrics series, written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki. It was originally published in Ultra Jump on August 19, 2003 as the seventh and final chapter of the series.
Growing up as part of a family of poor immigrants, Mary Mallon demonstrated a talent for cooking peach pies at a young age. The people she lived with assured her that cooking was the foundation of happiness, and she took the lesson to heart. The narration posits a question for the audience: can Mary be blamed for what happens next?
In 1897, many of the residents in the Mamaroneck house developed a high fever and rose-colored spots on their chest. When Mary moved to Manhattan to work for another family, all of her fellow servants fell ill and were hospitalized within 10 days. Afterward, Mary disappeared, carrying only her hopes of cooking for others. For the next ten years, similar incidents would occur across the New England region of America, though investigations into the cause would prove fruitless. This decade of unexplained illness would culminate in a lavish 1906 party where, following a dessert banquet of peach pies, many of the guests were hospitalized, despite the hired female cook remaining in perfect health.
Following this incident, Mary is interrogated by Dr. George Soper, a sanitation engineer. Despite Mary's cheerful demeanor, the mention of the ill guests provokes her into defending her cooking. Soper explains that the guests have fallen ill with typhoid fever, a potentially-lethal disease with a mortality rate five to seven times higher for elderly people and infants. Soper raises the possibility of Mary being a healthy carrier whose gallbladder has been infected, and proposes taking her to a doctor. Upon hearing this, Mary seemingly jumps out a nearby window and runs, forcing Soper to send the police after the "disgusting little woman." Suddenly, Mary reappears and, enraged by Soper's comment and defensive about her health, spits on the police officers before making her escape.
By the time Mary was arrested in 1907, she had infected at least 57 people with her cooking, killing three. The newspapers scorned her, dubbing her "Typhoid Mary" and calling her "the most dangerous woman in America." After doctors confirmed that she was a healthy carrier, Mary was quarantined in a hospital for three years. Afterward, she was presented with a choice: she could either have her gallbladder removed or be forbidden from working as a cook ever again. Mary chose the latter, and disappeared once more.
The narration asks once more: is any of this Mary's fault?
In 1915, Mary reappears at the home of an old blind man and his infant child. After drinking a bit of the baby's milk, Mary prepares to give it to the baby, certain that her cooking makes people too happy for them to be suffering from it. Fortunately, a series of coincidences barely keeps the baby away from the bottle of milk long enough for Soper and the police to arrive. Mary, cornered, attempts to flee through a window once more, only to be arrested again. Since her release, she had resumed cooking under a false name, and had infected an additional 25 people.
Mary was admitted to a hospital on North Brother Island, where she resisted increasing pressure from the doctors to have her gallbladder removed. Eventually, she was forbidden from leaving the island entirely. For the remaining 23 years of her life, Mary would work as a technician in the island's laboratory and take up reading in her spare time, never to cook for anyone ever again.
- In real life, Mary did not attend any party in 1906: she was first investigated by Soper after her service at Walter Bowen's house led to his daughter's death and three of his servants being hospitalized.
- The real Mary's second arrest occured while she was bringing food to a friend in Long Island.
- Mary Mallon on Wikipedia