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

Pete takes Maggie to a large music hall. An orchestra sits upon a stage near the center of the room. The hall is crowded with working class patrons, some with their families, and numerous waiters who carry trays of beer and make change. Small boys vend cakes to the throng and smoke from the mens pipes lingers high in the air. Pete seizes a table and orders two beers. When the beverages arrive he upbraids the waiter for their size and orders larger beers. Maggie is impressed by Petes knowledge of the manners of what she considers a very fine establishment.
The orchestra strikes some introductory notes and a girl in a short pink dress runs onto the stage. The girl sings a brazen song and the men in the front row accompany her on the chorus. She runs offstage to loud applause. When she returns she flounces her many skirts to reveal her pink stockings. Maggie is awed by the extravagance of the costume. Before leaving the stage the dancer attempts some of the moves popular among the higher-class theaters. The next performer is a ventriloquist who makes two dolls sing songs and tell funny jokes. Maggie is captivated and asks Pete if the little men are truly talking. Pete responds: “Naw, its some damn fake. See?” Next on the bill are two girls claiming to be sisters who sing a popular duet. Then a woman sings Negro melodies and a mournful air that brings heartfelt applause from the whole audience. For her final song the woman sings a patriotic piece that receives wild cheers and boot thumping. After that a short fat man does a comical song and dance.
Pete drinks his beer and watches Maggie. She is obviously pleased. He sees that Maggie breathes heavily and that her eyes glisten. After the show Pete takes her arm and, offering to fight several men along the way, shoves a way for them out of the theater. It is very late at night when they reach the tenement building. Pete asks Maggie for a kiss as payment for having taken her to the show. “Naw, Pete,” she responds laughing, “dat wasnt in it.” Maggie retreats up the stairs but looks back and smiles at him before disappearing. Pete wonders if hes been “played fer a duffer.”
Analysis of Chapter 7
This chapter marks the first outing for Pete and Maggie and also the first of several stage shows and theatrical scenes that Crane will use to chronicle the arc of their relationship. The music hall, though working class, is entirely respectable as evidenced by the presence of families in the crowd. The overall impression is of cheap but soothing entertainment. Maggies inexperience with is highlighted by her failure to notice the bawdy nature of the singers performance – but she does not fail to notice the high cost of her outfit. Similarly, she considers Petes request for large beers to be a sign of breeding and good manners. She reveals herself to be a complete innocent when she asks Pete whether or not the ventriloquists dummies are real persons. Innocent though she is, Maggie is demur and knows well enough to refuse Petes request for a kiss on their first outing.