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Legs

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Summary

Chapter 5: Playing the Jack

Summary Chapter 5: Playing the Jack

Analysis

Gruesome stories and tall tales of Jack's gangster exploits fill this section. The stories of Goose spreading his venereal diseases at Jack's request, the murder of an underworld figure's innocent girlfriend, and the desecration of Northrup's body point to a purely evil side of Jack's persona that is not immediately obvious from his behavior. The stories begin to make Marcus nervous, and he considers quitting. Marcus enjoys the excitement of hanging out with gangsters, but the thought of violence makes him nervous.

The stories also make Kiki reconsider her involvement with Jack. She has ample motive to leave him, from the tales of his nefarious doings, to his habit of leaving her under guarded supervision, to hearing him get shot from the shower. But Kiki is also attracted to the violence that makes Marcus repellent. Jack's badness turns her on. She loves him more when she realizes that he will die a young man. Kiki also relishes the secondhand attention people lavish on her when she is in Jack's presence. The strange street man who gives Kiki advice takes back his card when he finds out her affiliation with Jack. Kiki is not above capitalizing from Jack's accident, and uses it as an opportunity to publish her memoirs in the paper.

Despite the horrifying revelations that pepper this section, neither Kiki nor Marcus nor Alice leave Jack. The inability of any of these characters to tear themselves away from Jack illustrates the powerful magnetism of Jack's presence. Even the townspeople of Catskill feel similarly torn about Jack, relishing the "hero" in their neighborhood while nervously shying away from his reputation for violence.