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A forlorn woman walks along a crowded street looking for someone. When she sees Jimmie, she calls out to him. He is instantly exasperated to see her and pushes her away. She keeps pursuing him with entreaties. He tells her to "go to hell." Then he slips into a bar and loses her. He watches her through the window laughing at her futile attempts to catch sight of him in the crowd.
Jimmie arrives home and finds Maggie standing in the middle of the room being screamed at by her mother. Maggie shifts around the floor as if she has no place to stand. Mrs. Johnson screams so loudly, calling Maggie a "beast" for coming back home, that the neighbors begin to crowd around the open door to watch. Mrs. Johnson sneers at Maggie, calling her a pretty girl just like she always was. Maggie appeals to Jimmie who flinches away from her as if she has some kind of disease. Finally, Maggie turns and leaves the room. A child has gotten free of its mother and blocks the doorway. When it sees Maggie approaching, it screams in terror. The mother grabs it up away from contact with Maggie.
As Maggie gets out into the hallway, she encounters the old beggar woman. The woman exclaims over Maggie’s return and her rejection. She offers her place for the night, saying "I ain’t got no moral standin’." Maggie can still hear all the voices of the neighbors on the floor above and can hear her mother’s derisive laughter above it all.
The scene of Maggie’s return home is one of the last scenes of the Johnson’s home. The last scene of that home takes place in the final chapter of the novel, when Jimmie comes home to announce Maggie’s death. Here, the scene is reminiscent of that early scene of the novel in which Jimmie went to the beggar woman’s apartment for safety when his parents were fighting so hard that they threatened his life and sanity.
Maggie is abject. She has no voice. She doesn’t answer any of the charges her mother makes against her. She can only appeal to her brother Jimmie when he arrives home. Crane has set up Jimmie’s moral position with the beginning of the chapter when he shows Jimmie hiding from a woman, Hattie, whom he has "ruined" and then abandoned. The moral double standard with regard to men and women is pronounced. Jimmie can come home and retain his place as its head. Maggie can’t even stand firmly in one spot. In this detail, Crane captures the impossible position of a woman like Maggie. She has no standing in society whatsoever. The horrendous Mrs. Johnson is a moral paragon compared to her.
In the exaggerated nature of the reactions of the tenants to Maggie, Crane again calls attention to the melodrama of life. People treat Maggie as a contagion, as a demon who will get them if they have any physical contact with her. No one comes to her rescue. In exaggerating the community’s moral outrage, Crane pushes his readers to see that hypocrisy of nineteenth century moral codes which condemn illicit sexual conduct more fully than they condemn cruelty and rejection.