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Maggie and Pete are sitting in a hall drinking beer. A singer is on stage singing a ballad. She leaves the stage and returns with less clothing on. She repeats this maneuver several times. Each time she leaves, the men in the audience call out more loudly for her return. Maggie is pale. She leans on Pete as if he is the only person in the world who can protect her. She seems to worry at every step if she is pleasing him well enough. "Pete’s air of distinguished valor had grown upon him until it threatened stupendous dimensions." He leans back and yells at the waiters to prove his manliness.
Maggie sometimes tells Pete long tales about her former life at home. She tells him about her family’s violence and her attempts to make her life orderly and loving. Pete reassures her with "Dey was damn jays." Maggie thinks of her old home and clings to Pete as the alternative to it. She thinks of her old job where the manager sat around screaming at the women to work harder. She imagines a wonderful future with Pete. She thinks of her life as belonging to Pete. She doesn’t think of herself as a bad woman. No other women of her experience were any better.
As she sits in the hall, she notices the men in the audience staring at her, old and young alike. Their stares make her nervous. They make Pete proud. He tells her she’s a good looking woman. She smiles nervously at him. She doesn’t think she is the kind of woman these men think she is. She looks only at Pete and the stage. She thinks of all the men who stare at her as much worse men than Pete. Finally, she asks him if they can go. On their way out, Maggie sees two prostitutes sitting at a table with some men. The prostitutes make a show of moving their skirts aside when
This is the second hall scene of the novel. The contrasts between this hall and the previous hall are many. Pete took Maggie to the beer garden on their first date. Now, they are living together. The first hall was a family establishment. This one is close to a strip club. This short chapter shows Maggie after she has been living with Pete for an unspecified length of time. Now, instead of taking her to the Museum of Art, he’s taking her to a strip show. The last image of the chapter serves to indicate Maggie’s new place in society. Prostitutes sitting at a table with men pull back their skirts so as to avoid contact with her. This action is a puzzle since Maggie is only with one man while the prostitutes are with many men. Perhaps the prostitute wants to remind Maggie that she is only one step away from being a prostitute--only one man is paying for her keep in return for sexual favors--and that she should therefore not take on an air of superiority.