Liza of Lambeth, Chapter Seven

The chapter ends with Liza becoming a fallen woman, taking up with the married guy, Jim, who has kept her out late after their illicit date. It’s less a taking up than an actual assault, though Maugham sort of reduces Liza to a specter for the finish. She’s active but sort of silent. And her activity—trying to loose herself of the man’s grasp—has no reaction. Similarly, when the guy punches her in the stomach, it has no reaction. Maugham skips the reaction. It’s extremely manipulative, coming after a somewhat unimaginative chapter. The structure, save the probable rape at the end, is just like any number of the immediately previous chapters. Liza daydreams of married man, Jim, teases him—though Maugham then infantilizes her in the prose—gets friendly with him, goes home. Only with a different ending. She also fights with her friends who don’t know about Jim. Just like every other chapter. There’s even expository dialogue from Liza to herself here. Maugham’s rushing to get to that finish. And, even though it’s manipulative, it’s effective. It’s also in danger of being way too cheap.

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