Maggie:Life of a Girl on the Streets
By Stephen Crane
“Maggie: Life of a Girl on the Streets” by Stephen Crane is a short novel revolving around the coming of age story of a young woman in New York City. Maggie is a child living in the tenements of the Bowery, a slum area of New York City.Her father and mother are both alcoholics, which affected her self image and self esteem. She and her two brothers also suffered a violent and abusive childhood.The younger of the two boys dies, but Maggie and Jimmie survive.Maggie grows into a beautiful girl, somehow untouched by the chaos around her.When her brother brings home his friend Pete, who shows her some attention, she falls in love with him.She sees Pete as her way out of this negative situation.She fails to see him as the ill-mannered braggart that he is and succumbs to his charms.She goes to live with him, but Pete soon tires of her.She tries to return home, but is turned away.Both her mother and her brother condemn her as a fallen woman, despite the immoral behavior of both of them.Maggie, homeless and penniless, turns to prostitution to make a living.As her life becomes more dismal, she commits suicide.Her mother, on learning of Maggie's death, wails hypocritically that she will forgive Maggie her sins.
In Maggie, Stephen Crane deals with poverty and vice, not out of curiosity or to promote debauchery but as a defiant statement voicing the life in slums. Drawing on personal experience, he described the rough and treacherous environment that persisted in the inner-city. By focusing on the Johnsons, Crane personalizes a large tragedy that affected and reflected American society as a whole. His creation of Maggie was to symbolize a person unscathed by their physical environment. Through Jimmie he attempted to portray a child raised without guidance who turned into his abusive, drunk father. Crane plays Jimmie and Maggie off of each other as opposites. The Mother and Father are depicted as failed drunken hypocrites and poor role models. Crane skillfully characterizes and stereotypes the personalities in Maggie to illustrate the influence of environment and the wretched conditions in slums.
Maggie "blossomed in a mud puddle" and represented purity in a corrupt world. When she gets together with Pete she attempted to get out of the world she despised, but instead remained in the slum, unable to escape. Although she is repeatedly abused, Maggie continually picks up the remnants of her life despite being "in a worn and sorry state."
Jimmie is seen both in a good light, like his sister, as well as an evil and cruel person. In the beginning of the story, he.