Last updated: July 12, 2019
Topic: FamilyChildren
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in Stephen Cranes novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, readers are
shown the character development of Maggie and how she ultimately came to such a
sad end. The tragic plot form of the novel unfolded the events that lead to all
of the characters decisions and motives. As readers, one is shown how Maggie’s
motives and how her surrounding has impacted her with not leaving any room for
desires. While leaning on her family and Pete for support, Maggie is
disregarded. The characters unwillingness to help Maggie and hear her out drives
her into the life of a prostitute. The mode of realism created by the author
permits his readers to learn a valuable lesson. The significance of the novel
is that individuals are raised in harsh environments that hinder them from
growing, learning, and developing what is needed to survive and flourish in
life. Individuals want to feel that they are important and do not go unnoticed.
We must come to realize that poverty is not glamorous but something that
individuals experience daily. It does not hurt for one to lend a helping hand
or take a step back to reflect on how their actions may have impacted someone
else’s. In the novel, readers a rooting for Maggie and want her to prosper, but
we can also see how quickly society categorizes prostitution. Maggie: A Girl
of the Streets is a thought-provoking novel as it offers the fictional
attempt to give the effect of an unpolished American society.

the relationship between the environment and the characters, Crane also offers
social commentary to his readers. Towards the ending of the novel, we see how many
individuals often stray away from Maggie as she approaches them for assistance
and support. One character who avoids Maggie in the novel is a clergyman. The
text states, “But as the girl timidly accosted him, he gave a convulsive
movement and saved his respectability by a vigorous side-step” (Crane 87). This
statement displays irony that is used to offer social commentary. Morally,
clergymen are members of the Christian church who are there to withhold
leadership and lend a helping hand. Instead, in the novel, we see that the
clergyman does not want to be seen communicating with Maggie in fear of losing his
reputation and respectability being that she has turned to prostitution. The
author added this incident to showcase how often individuals seek assistance,
but they do not receive it because the egocentric behavior of others overpowers.
Crane comments on the clergyman’s actions which leads to the question, “If a
clergyman is turning his back on someone in need then how Christian are we?” From
looking at Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, individuals can take away that
one’s identification with a religious group does not have great significance if
one is not following the paths that are given. This is also shown in the novel
relating to Mary. The character is given the name Mary which makes reference to
the mother of Jesus, but when looking at the character one can ask “how much forgiveness,
mercy, and charity does the mother have?”

the contrary, from Maggie’s sad ending readers can view how Maggie: A Girl
of the Streets is a novel about larger ideas. The relationship between the
environment and the characters is a prominent idea that is discussed in the
novel. In the novel, it is shown that the environment that the characters live
in is survival of the fittest. The characters are born into an environment that
greatly impacts their character and whether or not they are adapted enough to
thrive and survive. When looking at the character Jimmy, readers view how the crowded
poverty-environment impacted his pugnacious behavior. In the opening chapter,
the text states, “The little boys ran to and fro, dodging, hurling stones and
swearing in barbaric trebles” (Crane 37). It is displayed that violence
establishes order in this battlefield and Jimmy fought to earn his spot at the
top. The environment shaped his toughness, as he accepted his fate knowing that
he needed a hard shell to survive. When looking at Maggie, readers can see how
the environment impacted her desire for more. It is stated that “None of the
dirt of Rum Alley seemed to be in her veins” (Crane 49). In comparison to her
peers, Maggie was much different and good-natured. Maggie holds on to hope
throughout the novel. but unfortunately, Maggie is seen as unsuited in this battlefield.
Stephen Crane makes it conspicuous that based off of a character’s development the
environment they may be too overwhelming. If one is not fit for the environment
that they were in, they will not survive. The novel is filled with images of
realism that showcases how the tenements leave individuals with little hope and

after being seduced by Jimmie and left to fend for her own, Maggie then turns
to her brother. Readers witness Jimmie as a violent character who is
emotionally detached which permits him to gain responsibility for Maggie’s
death. Readers are shown reoccurring scenes where Jimmie has deliberated on
whether he should find Maggie and bring her home. The character states, “An’
maybe it ‘ud be better if I- well, I t’ink I kin look ‘er up an’- maybe it ‘d
be better if I fetched her home an-” (Crane 75). It is evident that Jimmie is
thinking about his disapproval. He understands that Maggie was never properly
taught and it would have been acceptable to condemn her if she had known better.
Due to the character’s toughness, he disregards these thoughts and begins to
publicly damn his sister. Jimmie fails to see his hypocritical behavior as he
has impregnated two women and has disregarded his role as a father. When Maggie
returns home in hopes of being accepted she encounters her mother’s wrath and
reaches out to her brother. The readers can hear the call for need in Maggie’s
voice as the text states, “The girl seemed to awaken. “Jimmie-” (Crane 83).
Longing for her brother’s support Maggie is rejected as Jimmie backs away from
her. Readers are shown, in the beginning of the text, how Maggie viewed her
brother as someone to lean on in time of need as the text states, “The thin,
white face of his sister looked at him from the door-way of the other room. She
crept to him across the floor” (Crane 45). It is evident that Jimmie was
someone who Maggie greatly cared for, but instead, Jimmie has turned his back on
his sister. The character is determined to save his reputation as a “soldier”
while also appearing on a higher social plane, which results in abandoning his
sister. One can say that with knowing Maggie no longer has her brother’s
support, she has nowhere to go but to walk the streets and become what her
family has already thought of her; a prostitute.

as the novel progresses readers are shown Maggie’s relationship with Pete and
how his disdain for Maggie leads to his responsibility in her death. Pete is
characterized as the savior who rescues Maggie after she has been kicked out of
the house. Maggie’s thoughts and action towards Pete are displayed when the
text states, “She seemed to beseech tenderness of him” (Crane 73). It is evident
that Maggie has begun to take interest in Pete as he is her alternate from her
past experiences, but readers are able to quickly see through Pete. After
encountering a longtime companion, Nellie, Pete’s behavior and attitude towards
Maggie begin to shift. Pete’s interest in Nellie is shown as he leaves Maggie
at the hall. The narrator informs readers that “the woman walked down between
the rows of tables, Pete was at her shoulder talking earnestly, apparently in
explanation. The woman waved her hands with studied airs of indifference. The
doors swung behind them, leaving Maggie and the mere boy seated at the table”
(Crane 80). Due to this, Maggie is confused and unsure of her relationship with
Pete and shocked in his change in behavior. Again, Maggie is left to fend for
herself as Pete leaves Maggie for another woman. When asked where she should go
Pete responds with, “Oh, go teh hell” (Crane 86). Pete fails to see how he has
impacted Maggie as she began to depend on him. Pete is concerned with keeping
his respectability at his workplace and believes Mary and Jimmie are to blame for
what has happened to Maggie. The one individual who Maggie has begun to care
for has left her wandering the streets while other men, whose minds are on
seducing Maggie, take interest in her.

begin, in the novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets the character Mary,
who is the mother of Maggie, is characterized as a ferocious dipsomaniac whose
drinking often causes violence. Due to the mother’s intoxication, the
relationship between Maggie and her mother has a strain. The opening chapter
gives the readers a glimpse of the mother’s behavior when Maggie breaks a
plate. The text states, “Her eyes glittered on her child with sudden hatred.
The fervent red of her face turned almost to purple” (Crane 42). This statement
highlights the mother’s aggressive behavior and her short temper. The mother’s
need to heighten and augment situations with threatening words and actions
ultimately affects Maggie as she encounters her first companion. When hearing
of Maggie’s relationship with Pete, Mary throws her daughter out of the house.
The text states, “Go teh hell now, an’ see how yeh likes it. Git out. I won’t
have sech as yehs in me house!” (Crane 65). Despite knowing the extent of her
daughter’s relationship, Mary believes Maggie has had sexual relations with
Pete therefore, she criticizes her daughter and is convinced she has gone to
the devil. Readers are shown the mother’s hypocrisy as her list of run-ins with
the law runs long, but she believes she displays the righteousness to judge her
daughter. With the mother’s decision to desert her daughter, Mary is held
responsible for Maggie’s death. Mary ultimately leads her daughter into a life
of danger and hardship. A mother’s role is often to be a provider, protector,
and nurturer to her children but readers are shown how Mary puts Maggie on
display to the neighboring individuals calling her an embarrassment to the
family. It is exclaimed that Mary “rushed forward and grabbed her child,
casting a terrible look of indignation at the girl” (Crane 83). Due to Mary’s
spectacle, and disregard for her daughter, Maggie is terrified and forced to
leave her home as she is the new topic of discussion in the neighborhood.

an individual is born they are brought into a world that they are unaware of.
At a young age, individuals get accustomed to what is said and displayed to
them. They continue to model what is around them until they step out of their
environment. When stepping out of one’s environment individuals can gain an
understanding that everyone’s way of life is different depending on how one is
raised and the environment they are raised in. Unfortunately, some individuals
are not given the opportunity to step out of their environment because of
economic and social conditions that arise. These conditions shape an individual’s
behavior and may determine the events in their life. In Stephen Crane’s novel, Maggie:
A Girl of the Streets, readers are shown the various characters who reside
in the slums of New York City, known as Bowery. Crane metaphorically refers to
the living conditions as a “mud puddle” due to the character’s detrimental
environment. The plot of the story displays how the main character, Maggie, turns
to prostitution which leads to her horrific death at the story’s end. With the
use of characterization and hypocrisy, this paper will showcase the complex mix
of culpability among three major characters that are held responsible for
Maggie’s death which leads to the social commentary that the author is