Maggie Girl of the Street

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EH 200
11/19/2012
Naturalism in “Maggie: A girl of the street”

Naturalism is evident not only in the content of Stephen Crane’s “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets,” but this naturalistic idea is also expressly stated by the author. Crane’s purpose in writing Maggie is “…to show that environment is a tremendous thing in this world, and often shapes lives regardless” (Westbrook 587). Maggie lives with a poor and abusing family and a hopeless future with only the small possibility of change. The environment and setting she grows up in support only a dreary and pathetic future for her. Maggie expresses a model of culture and identity that critics call environment. Howard Horwitz expresses in saying that “ this model conceives a person as natural growths of environment, who do not modify but instead reflect and reproduce environment because they are wholly, as some social scientists put it, ‘imitation’ of environment ”(Horwitz 608). This shows that people are a reflection of the environment they live in. Stephen Crane uses naturalism to show that Maggie is shaped by her environment. Maggie lived with an abusive family, grew up in the slums and is rejected by her family and love interest, Pete; she also becomes a prostitute and eventually dies alone. These consequences clearly demonstrate the environment’s effect on the outcome of Maggie’s life. Maggie grew up in a family with drunk and abusive parents. She has an older brother, Jimmie who is aggressive and likes to get into fights on street corners. Maggie also has a younger brother, Tommie, who passed away as an infant. Crane describes their mother, Mary, as a “large, rampant woman,” with immerse hands and yellow face, acting in a “chieftain-like” style (Crane 225). Her addiction to alcohol caused her to become violent and abusive particularly to her children and more specifically, Maggie. For example, when Maggie broke a plate by mistake, her mother was so furious her eyes “glittered with sudden hatred. The...
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