The Coming-Out of Maggie (Henry)

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The Coming-Out of Maggie
Summary of a short story
Microsummary: A plain girl brought a charming suitor to a dance, pretending he was from a respected family. The club leader confronted him, leading to a near-violent altercation. The girl confessed the truth, finding redemption.

In the early 1900s, the Clover Leaf Social Club held a dance every Saturday night at the Give and Take Athletic Association hall on the East Side. To attend, one had to be a member of the association or work at Rhinegold's paper-box factory. Maggie Toole, a plain-looking girl with a dull social life, usually attended these dances with her best friend, Anna McCarty, and Anna's boyfriend, Jimmy Burns.

Maggie Toole — Plain-looking girl in her 20s; works at a paper-box factory; dull eyes, broad mouth; loyal, sweet, and unassuming.

One Saturday, Maggie surprised Anna by announcing that she had a gentleman friend who would escort her to the dance. At the event, Maggie introduced her suitor as Terry O'Sullivan, a charming and attractive man who quickly became the center of attention.

Terry O'Sullivan (Tony Spinelli) — Maggie's suitor, later revealed to be Italian; in his 20s or 30s; dark curly hair, bright eyes, and teeth; charming, attractive, and deceitful.

However, the leader of the association, Dempsey Donovan, grew suspicious of Terry's true identity, as he had never seen him before and questioned his claim of being an O'Sullivan.

Dempsey Donovan — Leader of the Give and Take Athletic Association; in his 30s; strong build, glacial eye, dominating mouth, and fair complexion; cool, confident, and protective.

As the night progressed, Dempsey confronted Terry, and a tense standoff ensued. Just as Terry was about to attack Dempsey with a stiletto, Maggie intervened, grabbing his arm and causing the knife to fall to the floor. This shocking act went against the club's code of conduct, and Terry was promptly thrown out.

Maggie then confessed to Dempsey that Terry was not an O'Sullivan but an Italian man named Tony Spinelli. She had arranged for him to pretend to be an O'Sullivan so that he would be accepted by the club members. Feeling guilty, Maggie offered to resign from the club. However, Dempsey, touched by her honesty, asked her to attend the next dance with him, to which she happily agreed.

The story highlights the importance of honesty and staying true to oneself, as well as the challenges faced by immigrants in a society that often judged them based on their ethnicity. It also showcases the power of friendship and the potential for redemption and new beginnings.