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MonkeyNotes-Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
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Chapter 16

Pete is in his bar thinking about Maggie. He doesn’t think he is responsible for ruining Maggie. He tends to blame Mrs. Johnson and Jimmie for what has happened to Maggie. He also dismisses his moral responsibility toward Maggie on the grounds that in his world, people don’t expect to be happy. He dismisses all of these thoughts with "What deh hell?" His main concern is that he might get into trouble with his boss who insists on respectability in his employees.

He remembers a conversation with Nellie in which she made fun of Maggie. He told her Maggie wasn’t important to him anyway. She had told him she didn’t care who he went with. Any time Pete is made fun of for the women he dates, he always dismisses them as passing fancies or less. Suddenly, Pete notices Maggie hanging around the entrance of the saloon. He is astonished that she would show up there and rushes to the side door.

When Maggie sees Pete signaling her, she loses her worried look and smiles in gratitude. Pete gestures for her to come to him. When she does, he asks her if she wants to get him fired. She tries to remind him that he once told her to come to the saloon any time she needed anything, but he dismisses her words, saying she will get him fired if she stays. He says the boss had to pay for the breakage caused by the fight Jimmie started, so he has been watching him carefully. Finally, Maggie asks him where she’s supposed to go. He tells her to go to hell and slams the door in her face.

Maggie stands outside for a moment and then begins to wander aimlessly down the streets. She notices that men look at her with interest when she looks like she has no where to go, so she tries to appear as if she is in a rush. After wandering the streets for a long time, she notices a clergyman. She decides to go over and asks him for help. She has heard about "the Grace of God." When he sees her, however, he steps to the side to avoid her in an effort to save his respectability. "He did not risk it to save a soul. For how was he to know that there was a soul before him that needed saving?"


Notes

The scene of confrontation between Maggie and Pete replicates the scene of the last chapter between Jimmie and Hattie. The reader is therefore prepared for Pete’s response. Maggie seems to be the only one in the novel who has been able to retain enough naiveté to believe that Pete will support her and follow through on all his promises. Crane carefully sets Maggie’s confrontation with Pete in the same chapter in which Maggie tries to ask help from a clergyman. In rejecting her as if he will lose some of his moral respectability to be seen talking to her, he becomes a replica of Pete. Moral respectability is under scrutiny in this chapter. It is shown to be more important to people than simple altruism.

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