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MonkeyNotes-Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
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Chapter 2

Jimmie and his father reach a neighborhood where dozens of unattended infants and small children sit around the street and gutter. Laundry hangs from the fire escapes. "Formidable women" gossip with each other and scream out at each other. "Withered persons" sit around as if they have finally submitted to the wretchedness of their lives. The building seems to quiver with the weight of all the people that inhabit it.

One baby is crying and a little girl calls out its name, Tommie. She is trying to pull her little brother along to catch up with her brother, Jimmie, and their father. The baby holds back and screams in resistance. When she sees Jimmie’s bruises and blood, she cries out to him that he’s been fighting again. She weeps along with the baby. She is worried about what their mother will do to all of them when she sees the state Jimmie is in. Jimmie hits his sister and she cries louder and shrinks away from him. His father turns on him and tells him to stop hitting his sister. His father bemoans the fact that he can never beat any sense into him.

The four enter one of the "gruesome buildings" and climb the stairs. They enter a room "in which a large woman was rampant." She screams at Jimmie for fighting again. He hides behind the other children and bruises his shins against the table leg in doing so. She "heaves with anger" and picks Jimmie up by the neck and shoulder and shakes him. He screams and tries to get away. The baby sits on the floor watching in terror. The father sits in a chair with a pipe in his mouth. He yells at his wife to leave Jimmie alone so he can have some peace. He complains that she is always "poundin’ a kid." She beats Jimmie even more furiously. Then she tosses him into a corner where he lies down weeping and cursing.

She stands over her husband demanding to know why he’s interfering. He smokes his pipe as if he’s unconcerned with her. The baby crawls under the table and the girl hides. The man tells the woman that she’s been drinking again. She screams a denial. Meanwhile, Maggie asks Jimmie if he is hurt badly. She asks him if he would like her to wash his wounds. He only curses the Riley kid. He turns his face to the wall.


The fight between wife and husband ends with him storming out of the house. She calls out to him as he descends the stairs. She returns to the room and tells her children to get out of the way. Then she serves up supper and tells them to come and eat. They scramble to their places and eat ravenously. The woman watches them and drinks. Her mood changes and she begins to weep. She carries Tommie to another room and puts him to bed. She comes back and sits by the stove moaning about her fate. Maggie cleans up the table and Jimmie sits nursing his wounds. Maggie breaks a plate and her mother jumps up from her seat screaming. Jimmie jumps up and runs for the door.

He goes to an old woman’s apartment. She asks him what it is this time "Is yer fader beatin’ yer mudder, or yer mudder beatin’ yer fader?"

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