Often times in relationships one person loves the other more than that person loves the first. This is a common problem, and it often leads to the disinterest of the one being loved too much. In the work, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane, as Pete gets more used to Maggie's presence, he realizes that he does not have to try hard to win her over, so the qualities of the bars that they visit decrease over time. Evidence of the decay in scenery can be seen by Cranes description of the smoke, audience and music in each of the three bars portrayed.
The first bar to which Pete takes Maggie is elegant, and never having seen such an astonishing place, it sweeps Maggie off her feet. One of the first things she sees in the Rum Alley bar is the smoke. Maggie notices that the "clouds of tobacco smoke rolled and wavered high in the air about the dull gilt of chandeliers" (Crane 31). During this time period smoking inside was common. Mentioning the smoke entangled in the chandeliers gives the presence of tobacco a glamorous tone. The audience is rough and nothing special but they are not rowdy. Maggie observes that "the great body of the crowd was composed of people who showed that all the day they strove with their hands" (Crane 31). Most of bar dwellers are blue-collar workers that just want beer. These average people comprised an audience that watched a classy performance. On the stage "an orchestra of yellow silk women and bald-headed men on an elevated stage near the centre of a great green hued hall, played a popular waltz" (Crane 31). Certain elements such as "silk", "elevated stage," and the "great green hued hall" show the amount of class this venue has. The men of the orchestra are bald; this shows an aspect of cleanliness and maturity. These clean-cut men along with the women dressed in silk are playing a "popular waltz." This kind of music would not be seen in a dive bar; however, this extravagant setting does not last.'
The second bar is clearly not as astonishing as the first. Maggie noticed the music that "drifted to her ears through the smoke-filled atmosphere, made the girl dream. She thought of the former Rum Alley environment" (Crane 58). The smoke is described as thicker and lower. The music has to "drift" through the smoke to reach her ears. Just this early she is nostalgic about the first bar in Rum Alley. The rowdy crowd of this bar does not help: "men seated at the tables near the front applauded loudly pounding the polished wood with their beer glasses" (Crane 57). This behavior seems reminiscent of vikings after a successful pillage. The entertainment these men are applauding is described with less glamour: "A submissive orchestra dictated to by a spectacled man with frowsy hair and a dress suit, industriously followed the bobs of his head and the waves of his baton" (Crane 57). The conductor is described as having "frowsy hair" as opposed to the bald men in the previous bar. Frowsy hair does not project an image of cleanliness or order. The orchestra as a whole is "submissive," a term which doesn't usually suggest enthusiasm. It is as if they are held captive there. Despite its downfalls the second bar is still better than the third.
The third bar is the worst that Pete takes Maggie to. At this point, Pete realizes that he does not have to try to win Maggie; he already has her love and he is growing uninterested in it. The smoke in this bar is yet thicker and lower than it was in the last: "the usual smoke cloud was present, but so dense that arms seemed entangled in it" (Crane 64). Smoke was common in bars, but this magnitude was not normal. The word "entangled" gives it a distasteful tone. The crowd producing this smoke is even more rowdy than the prior. This bar requires a bouncer to keep things in line: "a bouncer, with an immense load of business upon his hands, plunged about in the crowd, dragging bashful strangers to prominent chairs" (Crane 64). The bouncer isn't simply for intimidation, he has an "immense load" of people to control so that the bar does not become a crime scene. The crowd at this bar is so thick that the bouncer "plunges" into it. The quality of entertainment reflects that of the crowd. It is simply "a woman was singing and smiling upon the stage, but no one took notice of her" (Crane 64). This bar, unlike the previous two, does not have an orchestra. They hire a single woman to entertain upon the stage. The performance is so plain that no one even notices her. This third and final bar is by far the least favorable.
Over the time that Pete dates Maggie, the quality of the bars decrease. The amount of smoke increases noticeably with each new surrounding. The people producing the smoke continually get more undesirable, finally needing a bouncer to control them. The entertainment starts out with a great spectacle: an impressive orchestra playing popular waltzes dominates the stage, but in the last bar a single singer goes unnoticed smiling on stage. The reason for this decline in extravagance is because Pete begins to lose interest in Maggie due to that she does not make him work for her. Crane had identified and written about a recurring issue in many relationship which most of the time cannot be changed or fixed.
Nate Bennett '16