Legs

by: William Kennedy

Chapter 6: John Thompson's Man

Summary Chapter 6: John Thompson's Man

Analysis

Alice has many of the same reservations about being with Jack as Kiki and Marcus do. Jack's wrongdoing particularly bothers Alice because she is a religious person. Alice rationalizes that she must accept Jack, as if he is a source of evil that has magically appeared in her life. She also enjoys this evil to a certain extent. She fires machine guns with equanimity, and calmly throttles the canary that Jack named for Kiki. Despite her violent tendencies, Alice is still the more housewifely of Jack's women. Kiki shines brightest when she is being squired by Jack, groped by the press, and drooled over by Marcus. But Alice rises to the occasion when Jack needs care. She looks back on Jack's recovery at the Polyclinic as one of the happiest periods in her life with him. This happy period comes to an end when she finds out that Jack has been in touch with Kiki, and when Jack rejects the notion of becoming a stage show act.

The idea of turning Jack into a traveling vaudeville show appeals to Marcus and Alice for the same reason: it will end their pangs of conscience over Jack's lifestyle. Jack the traveling evangelist and showman would still carry with him all of the notorious legend that appeals to Marcus and Alice, but without the murdering and drug smuggling that makes them nervous. The idea particularly appeals to Alice, because it would be a public act of repentance for Jack. However, Jack understands that he could never turn his lifestyle around in such a manner. Although he carries a rosary, sleeps under a crucifix, and feels blessed by God to still be alive, Jack is not a devout man. He could not completely tear himself away from a life of crime, and to go on the road and say otherwise would be hypocritical. Marcus and Alice attempt to turn Jack into a dishonest man, but he resists them.

Kiki's happy time of sex romps and parties with Jack seems to be over. The fudge that Kiki makes for Jack symbolizes her temporary futility and Jack's impotence. Kiki is not proficient in the kitchen, as Alice is. For Jack, Kiki's function is sex. On the night of the fudge-making, however, Kiki seems to lose her ability to stimulate Jack. The fudge will not harden, and Kiki and Jack go through this night without having intercourse.