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MonkeyNotes-Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
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Chapter 10

Jimmie realizes that Pete has betrayed his trust. He brought Pete into his home and Pete has now ruined his sister. He gets home from work late the next evening and the old beggar woman catches him in the hallway. She tells him the night before she overheard Maggie talking to Pete. It was very late when they arrived home and Maggie was asking Pete if he loved her. Pete had reluctantly said "Oh, hell, yes." The old woman laughs at this exchange. Jimmie leaves her and goes to his apartment. He finds it has been cleaned up and the blue ribbons replaced on the curtains.

When his mother gets home, he tells her Maggie has gone to "hell." She begins to cry and curse Maggie. She can’t imagine why Maggie has done this since she was raised so well. She tells Jimmie that she often warned Maggie away from this kind of life. When the girl next door got pregnant, she had warned Maggie. Jimmie says the girl next door was a different story. Jimmy has always thought that the sexual ruin of other girls was different from that of his sister. He leaves the apartment. On the way out, he hears the neighbors gossiping about Maggie. They all say they always knew this would happen to Maggie. On the street, Jimmie runs into a friend. He tells his friend that he’s going to get Pete for this. The friend discourages him from doing anything, saying "What deh hell?"


Notes

The effects of Maggie "going to hell" are immediately felt in the tenement house. Everyone is quick to condemn her. The late twentieth-century reader might find this a bit confusing. After all, what happened to make everyone assume that she had begun having sex with Pete is not even narrated. In this silence, the narration follows the norms of the nineteenth century concerning the artistic rendering of sex. It is only alluded to. The old woman beggar tells Pete she heard Maggie come in very late the night before. She relates an overheard conversation in which Maggie urges Pete to declare his love for her and Pete only reluctantly does so. From these scanty clues, the reader is to infer that Maggie has begun to have sex with Pete and he has promised her eternal love in return.

Maggie is now outside the society of the tenement house. While such a violent and ugly society is hardly one to be mourned, it is better than being a complete outcast. Maggie now has no support other than Pete’s.

Jimmie’s response to Maggie’s social ruin demonstrates, of course, the double standard he has always lived in regards to sexual relations with women. He has gotten at least two women pregnant and abandoned them. His sister, on the other hand, should be left alone by the predatory young men of her age.

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