Maggie A Girl of the Streets: Novel Summary: Chapter 18

Pete sits in a sectioned off portion of a saloon surrounded by half a dozen mirthfully laughing women. Pete is drunk and full of affection for himself and the world. “Im a good fler [fella],” he says to the girls, “Anbody treats me right, I allus treas zem right! See?” The girls loudly agree that Pete is the kind of man they like and he promises to buy them whatever they want to drink. He is overcome by a sense of his own benevolence and regard for his friends. Pete noisily summons a waiter and orders him to bring drinks for the girls. The waiter takes their orders but is obviously disgusted by Petes overly intoxicated manner. While the waiter is gone Pete loudly proclaims the excellence of himself and his drinking companions and reassures the girls that he has very high regard for them and knows that they are not merely trying to work him for drinks. The waiter returns and while he disperses the drinks Pete delivers a tearful soliloquy about his tender regard for all living things. As the waiter is about to depart Pete presents the man with a quarter but the waiter refuses. “Put yer money in yer pocket,” he says to Pete, “Yer loaded an yehs only makes a damn fool of yerself.” The waiter leaves and Pete is visibly depressed. The ladies, including Nell, the woman of “brilliance and audacity” comfort him and promise to stick by him. Pete comforts himself by reminding himself that he is a “damn goo fler” and the women heartily agree. Pete turns to Nell and drunkenly questions her with regards to his own worth. She readily agrees to everything he says and the whole group raises their glasses to Petes health. Pete decides that they should have another drink and the women encourage his spending. Pete beats the wooden table in an effort to summon the waiter but he does not come. Finally, after much pounding and shouting the waiter appears, takes the order and leaves quickly. Pete is suddenly apprehensive and suspects that the waiter has insulted him but the women convince him that the waiter is a good fellow who has done Pete no harm. Pete becomes confused and when the waiter returns he dramatically rises to his feet, says that the girls have told him that the waiter has insulted him but he doesnt agree and apologizes. After the waiter leaves Pete sits down heavily and though he is tired he feels a strong desire to straighten everything out. He closely questions Nell and she assures him, again, that he is a good fellow. Overcome by affection, Pete pulls three bills from his pocket and tells Nell she can have all his money because he is stuck on her. Soon afterward Pete falls asleep in his chair. The women continue with their party until Pete pitches forward onto the floor groaning. The women are disgusted and begin to leave. Nell picks up the money from the table and looking at the snoring man on the floor she says: “What a damn fool.”
Analysis of Chapter 18
Whereas Pete always appeared to be strong and assured with Maggie this chapter reveals his character when in the presence of Nell and her cohorts. He is deluded and pitiful and his attempts to buy affection inspire no real loyalty. Although one could argue that he is being punished for his treatment of Maggie Pete is not cognizant of his comeuppance and Nells scorn and so he is merely a sad wreck for no reason except his own nature.