Liza of Lambeth, Chapter Eight

Well, I suppose the good news is Jim didn’t force himself on Liza. That “violent” blow to the stomach to double her over was just fair play before a delightful sexual encounter, which she dwells on without remembering for the first couple pages of this chapter. Liza of Lambeth’s got to stay chaste after all. It’s a strange two pages of minute description, with Maugham going from close third to very distant. He talks about the artistic qualities of some decoration and it’s clearly not Liza’s interpretation of the items. She doesn’t have the necessary vocabulary or knowledge. Then she sets off teasing Tom—the suitor she doesn’t want—because she’s now got her manly lover. She does stop, but only because she introduces herself to her lover’s daughter and befriends her. Then she avoids the lover until the evening, bickering with her mother and almost getting caught. It’s a rough chapter, just because it’s clear Maugham’s limiting Liza’s potential. She’s the protagonist, but the protagonist of a bunch of caricatures.

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