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

This chapter opens with a description of the bar where Pete works. It has a glass front and the interior is olive colored with bronze tints in order to imitate leather. It had one long side bar behind which numerous glasses are geometrically stacked in front of a large mirror. Lemons, oranges and paper napkins are precisely placed throughout the glasses. Decanters hold various liquors of many hues. A counter opposite the bar contains food that has been picked over by the patrons. Pete is in the act of serving a quiet man at the bar a beer when Jimmie and his companion noisily enter the establishment and demand some gin. Pete serves them the liquor and the two begin to loudly deride Pete. They continue their mocking and insulting behavior when Pete orders them to finish their drinks and leave and not to make any trouble. Pete comes out from behind the bar and swears hell thrash them if they dont leave. Jimmie dares Pete to make them leave. Pete throws a punch but misses and Jimmie and his friend begin to pound him mercilessly. “The rage of fear shone in all their eyes,” relates the narrator, “and their blood-colored fists swirled.” They begin throwing things at each other and glasses and bottles begin to explode throughout the bar. The tower of drinking glasses collapses in shards and the mirror falls to pieces. A crowd gathers outside the bar and soon the police arrive. Seeing the authorities, Jimmie runs out the side door and, his face covered in blood, flees down the street. Running down the alley Jimmie thinks that he should return to rescue his friend from the police but then reconsiders and thinks to himself: “Ah, what deh hell?”
Analysis of Chapter 11
Jimmie fights Pete ostensibly in order to revenge his family for Petes despoiling of Maggie but at no point does Jimmie or Pete mention Maggie in the dialogue that leads up to the fight. Since her honor cannot be restored, she is already lost as far as Jimmie is concerned so his actions are not for his sisters honor but for that of his family. He must take revenge upon Pete so that the family cannot be accused of not caring that Maggie has been lost. Having fulfilled his duty Jimmie flees and feels no compulsion to pursue the matter even though his friend has been captured by the police and Pete has not suffered any special punishment that would differentiate this fight from any other. Significantly, when Pete first visited the familys apartment the stories he told Jimmie were of fights in the bar where he had to eject an unruly patron.