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MonkeyNotes-Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
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Chapter 7

The orchestra plays a popular waltz to a crowded hall. Waiters bring gallons of beer and boys dressed up in French chef costumes carry fancy desserts. The crowd of customers is composed of men who look like they just got off work. All kinds of people are in the audience, people from all nationalities. Pete walks in aggressively and wins a table for Maggie. He orders two beers and complains when the waiter brings Maggie a small drinking glass instead of a mug like his. Maggie thinks of Pete as full of the knowledge of "high-class customs."

The orchestra gears up and a girl in a pink dress "gallops" onto the stage. She dances and performs, giving the Bowery audience all that the upper class audiences of theaters get. Next, a ventriloquist comes out. Maggie wonders if the dolls can actually speak. Pete assures her that they are "damn fakes." Another song and dance act comes onto the stage. Then a singer comes out and sings plantation songs, the orchestra making a show of imitating the way African Americans supposedly dance. The audience loves her so much that she comes back on stage and sings about Irelandís eventually freedom from British rule. The crowd roars its praise.

Pete doesnít watch the stage; he watches Maggie. Sheís radiant with pleasure in the performance. Nothing of her usual life enters her mind as she watches the stage. When they get back to her apartment, he tells her to kiss him for having taken her to the performance. Maggie laughs in embarrassment and tells him that wasnít part of going out with him. He insists and she runs away up the stairs. He shakes his head and wonders if heís been played for a fool.


Notes

There are three hall scenes in the novel, this being the first. It set in the Atlantic Garden, a well known beer garden which catered mainly to first-generation European immigrants. Accustomed to the ugly tenement neighborhood and having gone only far enough afield to get a job in a collar and cuff factory, the hall is a realm of wealth, pleasure, and fantasy for Maggie, and her opinion of Pete rises even further since it is he who brings her.

Crane builds the irony of the novel especially strongly in this chapter. The disjunction between the readerís knowledge of the low art of the performances and Maggie and the other audience membersí enraptured appreciation of it as the height of artfulness creates the irony of the scene. This disjunction is also present between the readerís recognition of Pete as a bully and a dandy and Maggieís notion of him as an elegant man of the world.

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