Maggie A Girl of the Streets: Novel Summary: Chapter 13

After his fight with Pete Jimmie stays away from home for several days. Maggie does not return home. When Jimmie finally does return he finds his mother raving that her daughter has betrayed all of them. She cannot conceive of any reason why Maggie has fallen so low. The neighbors made the most of the womans misfortune by taunting her with questions about her absent daughter. Jimmie also is dumfounded by the turn of events and cannot fathom what his sister has done. In a long passionate speech filled with rhetorical questions, Mary wonders aloud how her daughter could have gone to the devil with a mother like herself. One day Jimmie returns home in a perturbed state of mind and asks if maybe things wouldnt be better if he fetched his sister home. Mary is visibly offended that Jimmie would ask her to welcome her sinful daughter and declares that even if she were to come home and beg for forgiveness “she kin cry er two eyes out on deh stones of deh street before Ill dirty deh place wid her.” Mary describes how she will deny comfort to her daughter when Maggie comes crawling home with her miseries. Jimmie, who cannot comprehend that his sister should succumb to passions like other women, agrees that his sister is damned. Mary makes it known to the neighbors that she did everything she could to protect the girl from sin but Maggie was evil to the core and will deserve her unlucky fate. From that time forth, every time Mary is arrested she uses her daughters downfall as an excuse and to good effect with the magistrates until one notes that her record shows forty two daughters that have fallen from grace. Thus, Mary goes through life loudly shedding tears while Jimmie, in order to stay in good social standing with his peers, denounces his sister though in private moments he would briefly consider and then discard the notion that Maggie was never shown a better way.
Analysis of Chapter 13
This chapter details the manner in which Mary and Jimmie assimilate Maggies fall into their lives. Mary rejects her daughter outright and gives no thought to her feelings. Rather, she takes Maggies actions as a personal attack and looks forward to the opportunity to refuse her comfort when she does return home. She assumes the posture of a martyr and uses Maggies fall from grace as an excuse for her drunken misdeeds. Rather than allow the neighbors to gossip about the event she makes it public and exacts a righteous comfort from what she perceives as a personal injury. Jimmie initially hopes to put things right by fetching Maggie home, not because he is worried about his sister but because he fears the loss of social status. When Mary rejects that idea Jimmie also publicly denounces his sister. In this way the morality and social pressure of the Bowery work against preserving the family because in order maintain the familys honor both Jimmie and Mary must reject Maggie, lessening the family by one third and depriving them of a daughter and a sister. Jimmie at least ponders Maggies fall from the girls perspective when he considers that she never knew a better way but he is unable to admit the truth of this to even himself.