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A group of children wait outside the side door of a bar. One of them calls out a warning to the others and at that moment Mary Johnson comes reeling out of the bar. She is screaming at the bar keeper that she has been frequenting the bar for three years and finds it astonishing that they are now trying to ban her. The children begin to jeer at her and she tries to grab them. They easily get away and follow her all the way home making fun of her.
When she gets into her building, one of the apartment doors is open and everyone from that apartment is looking out at her grinning in amusement. She lunges for the door, but they shut it and lock it before she can get to them. She stands outside kicking the door and cursing them until Jimmie comes home. He tries to make her go home, but she fights him. Everyone comes outside their apartments to watch the fight. Finally, he shoves her into their own apartment and continues to fight her until she falls on the floor cursing. Maggie has run to hide in the other room.
Just at that moment, Pete comes over. He tells Maggie to come with him and they will have "a hell of a time." Mrs. Johnson looks at him and tells Maggie to go to hell. She says Maggie has gone to the devil and that she is a disgrace to herself and to her people. Maggie stares at her mother frozen. Her mother continues to tell her to get out of the house and never come back. Maggie trembles in fear. Pete asks her again to come with him. He tells Maggie her mother will forget all about it by morning. Maggie gets up and leaves with him. Her mother yells "good riddance" behind her.
Chapter nine proves to be the turning point for Maggie. Her mother kicks her out of the house for being a whore. The painful irony of a woman like Mary Johnson being morally superior to Maggie is lost on everyone in the novella. Crane opens the scene with her drunken progress from her bar where she’s just been banned to her home, followed and taunted by neighborhood children, arriving home to threaten her neighbors with a violent confrontation, having to be dragged into the apartment and beaten into submission by her son. This horrendous scene shows Mrs. Johnson to be as much on the bottom of this society as one can get. Yet, when Pete comes to get Maggie and promises her a "hell of a time," the reader sees that there is one position in this society lower than that of a drunken, violent old woman. It is the position of a woman who has sex outside of marriage.