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MonkeyNotes-Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
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Chapter 6

Pete notices Maggie is listening to his stories of fights. He calls out to her and tells her he is "stuck on [her] shape. It’s outa sight." Then he embellishes his stories even more for her benefit. Maggie sits and watches him in awe. She thinks he must have to look very far beneath him to notice her. He leaves the Johnson home in a "blaze of glory." Maggie thinks of him as a knight.

She looks around the apartment and notices all the ugly details. The clock is broken and ugly and even its tick is an ugly sound. She thinks of the collar and cuff factory now with great distaste. She thinks Pete must have many pretty women surrounding him. "To her the earth was composed of hardships and insults. She felt instant admiration for a man who openly defied it." She thinks Pete might come again for another visit, so she sets about trying to fix up the apartment. She buys some cloth and hangs it on the crooked mantle.

That weekend, Pete doesn’t come, but a few days later he does. He comes in to ask her out for Friday night. The next few days Maggie spends at work daydreaming about Pete. She thinks he lives in "the blare of pleasure." She thinks of him as a man who has friends and who is feared by people.

All day Friday her mother drinks. By the time Maggie gets home from work, her mother is lying on the floor passed out. She has turned the entire apartment up, including the curtain Maggie has made for the mantle. Her mother calls out to her that she must be running the streets. She accuses Maggie of being a whore. When Pete arrives, Maggie is standing in a faded black dress in the midst of rubble with her mother passed out on the floor nearby. As she leaves, her mother calls out bad names to her.


Notes

This chapter begins with Maggie’s shame about her household, a shame that is brought on by the presence of Pete who dresses up as a dandy, and it ends with the degraded and brutish image of Maggie being picked up for a date by Pete while her mother snores on the floor of the wrecked apartment in an alcoholic stupor. The images of the domestic scene are drawn in the first of the chapter and then re-echoed in their degraded and torn form at the end of the chapter. For example, Maggie notices the blue ribbons she has tied to the dingy curtains. She has tried to make the house look prettier, but in the presence of Pete, she realizes the blue ribbons show up the dinginess of the curtains more. At the end of the chapter, the blue ribbons have been torn down. "The knots of blue ribbons appeared like violated flowers." Here, Crane draws on the ancient tradition in which feminine sexuality is imaged as flowers. Earlier, Maggie is said to have blossomed. Here, the blue ribbons are like violated flowers. Crane is clearly foreshadowing Maggie’s loss of virginity to Pete.

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