"A Girl of the Streets" by Stephen Crane.

Essay by Sage831GUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2003

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Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane shows that the environment that a person is raised in will have an effect on that person's life in the future. The story is a tragedy of a family, the Johnson's, who are living a life of poverty and abuse in the slums of New York City in the late 19th century. The main character, Maggie Johnson, has a dream to escape her life of poverty and brutality. Maggie is described to have "blossomed in a mud puddle" (Crane 22) but she eventually begins to live the life of prostitution and she dies a tragic death. Most critics say "Crane reveals quite strikingly his own psychological involvement in his literary works," (Gullason 148) and others say, "He tried to live what he'd already written" (Benfey 5). No editor was willing to publish Maggie because they found it to be too realistic and said that it would shock readers.

Crane was forced to publish the story at his own expense under the pseudonym Johnston Smith. When Crane was asked to describe Maggie he said that the novel "tries to show that environment is a tremendous thing in the world and frequently shapes lives regardless" (Pizer "Crane" 153). Maggie's tragic death was a result of many factors in her environment including the neighborhood she was raised in, her mother, Pete, and the moral standards set in the Bowery.

The first three chapters of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets shows a typical night for the Johnson's and the environment that Maggie and her brother Jimmie are being raised in. The first sentence, "A very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley," (Crane 3) shows the need to fight for survival in the slums. We meet five...