"Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" by Stephen Crane

Essay by megs4460College, UndergraduateA+, May 2007

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"Maggie: A Girl of the Streets", written by Stephen Crane, is a novel about a young girl who is trying to find her way through life. She comes from a family with an alcoholic mother and father, and a brother who is very brutish. However, Maggie grows up as a beautiful young girl who has romantic hopes of a better future. She constantly dreams of wealth and culture and is determined to lead a better social life as she grows older. Despite her ill-fated efforts, Maggie’s environment throughout life leads to her demise.

Jacob Levenson, author of Prose and Poetry, stresses the issue of Maggie’s hardships in life as the main reason for her downfall. Considering Maggie knew nothing but poverty and abuse, it is natural she wished for something more to her life. Growing up in a poverty-stricken family is Maggie’s reason for having romantic notions of a better life ahead of her.

Maggie’s family comes from a very poor neighborhood in New York where fights continually break out. Jimmie, Maggie’s brother, is a troubled child who continually picks fights with not only Maggie but other boys from their neighborhood as well. These fights are typically brutal and leave somebody injured: “What deh hell Jimmie? Jimmie wiped his blood wet features with his sleeve and said ‘well it was dis way, Pete, see! I was goin’ to the lik dat Riley kid and dey all pitched on me” (pg. 4). Although fights are breaking out on the streets, Maggie’s home life appears to be just as bad. Typically, Jimmie is the one to get punished. Considering their mother is an alcoholic, and a devil-like figure, and their father is a brutal alcoholic, their home is not a place of safety, and the children have no means of...