Maggie: A Girl of the Streets | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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Maggie: A Girl of the Streets | Chapter 11 | Summary



Pete pours a beer for a quiet stranger in a nice saloon. Jimmie and his friend enter. Pete is watchful, and the stranger slides away. The pair try to goad Pete into fighting, but he just tells them not to make trouble. Jimmie persists and brags of his fighting ability. Pete comes out from behind the bar, and the men try to make him strike first. The pair crowds Pete, edging him toward the wall until he is provoked. Then, "the flash of action gleamed from [Pete's] eyes. He threw back his arm and aimed a tremendous, lightning-like blow at Jimmie's face." Jimmie ducks and the pair punch Pete.

Soon all three are breathing heavily and "their blood-colored fists swirled." The friend takes a big punch and throws a beer glass at Pete. Soon everything in the place is broken: glasses, bottles, and mirrors. The stranger sprawled in the street attracts attention, and a cop arrives. Jimmie escapes and hides. He sees the cop take away his ally, with Pete following. About to intervene, Jimmie asks himself, "Ah, what deh hell?"


The fight between Pete and Jimmie escalates quickly and echoes the very scene in the novel's opening pages—except this time, Pete is fighting with Jimmie rather than rescuing him. Crane highlights yet again that the only way they know how to settle disputes is through violence. Jimmie doesn't seem to have considered how his actions might affect his sister and never even brings up her name to Pete. It's unclear what Jimmie's motive is other than revenge, since it doesn't seem as though he or Mary will ever allow Maggie back into their own family. Pete, for his part, is risking his livelihood by engaging with Jimmie, indicating that despite his bravado, his methods for settling conflict are just as base as Jimmie's. Crane's depiction of the violence each wages on the other echoes the merciless violence at the beginning of the novel, highlighting that little has changed.

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