Maggie A Girl Of The Streets Essay

This essay has a total of 1320 words and 6 pages.


Maggie A Girl Of The Streets





Maggie and Jimmie are two siblings being raised within the slums of New York City in the
Stephen Crane novel; Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. The parents of these two are
constantly fighting as broken furniture and fistfights are an everyday occurance in the
decrepid family apartment. The mother and father fight while their children hide
frightened as "There was a clash against the door and something broke into clattering
fragments .... (Jimmie) heard howls and curses, groans and shrieks, confusingly in chorus
as if a battle were raging" (11). Crane exxagerates the furniture destruction as every
night when the two parents battle, seemingly all the furniture in the apartment is
destroyed. Obviously, this poor family couldn't afford to fix and/or buy new furniture
everyday. This then is the environment that Maggie and Jimmie struggle with throughout the
novel, but both respond to in opposite ways. Maggie dreams of a better life than of her
roots while Jimmie excepts his roots and becomes nihilistic. However, the hope of Maggie
sadly goes unfulfilled.

Maggie is introduced into the storyline quite subtle and quickly becomes the main focus of
attention by the other three main characters. From the beginning, Maggie is a harsh
contrast to the slum environment she has to endure. She "blossomed in a mud puddle ... a
most rare and wonderful production of a tenement district, a pretty girl" (16) that not
only had the physical beauty that her family seemed to lack, but also the hope that she
could be better than what was around in her environment. Therefore, the slum environment
that surrounds her contrasts her character greatly. "None of the dirt of Rum Alley was in
her veins" (16) as she became the talk of numerous males in the neighborhood.

Pete; an acquaintance of Jimmie, became Maggie's infatuation. They meet when Pete is
called to the Johnson apartment by Jimmie after Pete promised to attend a boxing match
with him. Although only a bartender, Maggie finds Pete as a man of "personal superiority"
(17) that is capable of providing her with any dream she desires. She views the contrast
between Pete and her environment when:

The broken furniture, grimy walls, and general disorder and dirt of her home all of a
sudden appeared before her and began to take a potential aspect. Pete's aristocratic
person looked as if it might soil. She looked keenly at him, occasionally, wondering if he
was feeling contempt .... Maggie perceived that here was the beau ideal of a man. (19)

Therefore, Pete is the infatuation of Maggie because she has never known anything or
anyone better than of her environment. Pete; although somewhat sly and charming, isn't the
best that Maggie could do. However, a rather normal hustler such as Pete is practically
god-like compared to her rotten state of life. In the above quote, Crane hints in Maggie's
lack of self-confidence. Although Maggie does have hope to exit the slums, she is
embarrased by the condition in which she lives as she fears that Pete is looking at her
with contempt.

Once Pete notices Maggie he doesn't waste anytime in taking her out on the town. An
average night for them is watching "an entertainment of many hues and many melodies" (21)
and other various performance acts. Maggie grows more feelings for him after wining and
dining around all the local dinner halls and concerts. Pete continues to impress upon
Maggie at these outings as she begins to conger visions of Pete having "some half dozen
women in love with him .... he must live in a blare of pleasure. He had friends and people
who were afraid of him" (21). Her hopes of an extravagant life grow rapidly while with
Pete. This relationship builds to the point where Maggie decides to move out of her family
apartment and in with Pete. Not that Maggie can be blamed for wishing this as even after
the death of the father, Jimmie and the mother still bicker and break furniture as Jimmie
had grown "large enough to take the vague position of head of the family" (17). Jimmie
virtually replaces his father at this point in the novel as "he stumbled up-stairs late at
night, as his father had done before him. He reeled about the room, swearing at his
relations, or went to sleep on the floor" (17). The mother chastises Maggie for leaving
yelling "'Yeh've gone teh deh devil ... Yer a disgrace teh yer people'" (30) yet, the
devil is what she is really leaving. Her mother can never realize that she is the bad in
the situation and that Maggie simply hopes instead of accepts her position in life.

Continues for 3 more pages >>




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