Maggie: A Girl of the Streets | Study Guide

Stephen Crane

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Maggie: A Girl of the Streets | Chapter 7 | Summary



Pete takes Maggie to a place in the Bowery where an orchestra plays waltzes, beer glasses clink, and smoke clouds drift by the chandeliers. The crowd is mainly made up of laborers, some with wives and children, and some sailors. Pete looks at it all with an air of superiority, which deeply impresses Maggie. They watch the performance of a girl in short skirts who sings and dances, Maggie proclaiming, "Say, Pete ... dis is great." The ventriloquist act makes inexperienced Maggie ask, "Do dose little men talk?" Throughout the succession of performers, Pete ignores the stage and watches Maggie. When the show ends, he pushes through the crowd, opening the way for Maggie.

When they reach Maggie's door, Pete asks for a kiss for taking her to the show. She shrinks back, and says, "Naw, Pete ... dat wasn't in it." She heads up the stairs, turning to smile, and he walks off astonished, wondering if he had "been played fer a duffer."


Pete and Maggie's date serves as the first setting outside of their immediate environment, a sharp contrast for both Maggie and the reader. As such, Maggie is dazzled by the display she sees, although the narrator is careful to infer that the venue is not the classiest of places. For Maggie, however, it seals the deal that Pete is worldly and sophisticated, and only serves to elevate his status in her mind and make her feel inferior to him. Her world is expanding, and the reader only now begins to realize how small, confined, and dreary that world is. Maggie also reveals her naïve nature when she asks Pete if the ventriloquist's dummies are actually speaking. Although her innocence is endearing, in this environment it can't help but be seen as foreboding, for Crane has pointed out that innocence may be at odds with survival. Crane also sets the stage for Maggie's eventual seduction by Pete when he tries to kiss her and she refuses, causing him to attempt to woo her even harder.

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