Maggie, a Girl from the Street

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The novel, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, by Stephen Crane, takes place in the slums of New York City during the 1890’s. It is about a girl, Maggie Johnson, who is forced to grow up in a tenement house. She had a brother, Jimmie, an abusive mother, Mary, and a father who died when Maggie was young. When Maggie grew up, she met her boyfriend, Pete. In Maggie’s eyes, Pete was a sophisticated young man who impressed Maggie because he treated her better than she had been treated to all of her life. Once Maggie’s mother and brother found out that Maggie was sleeping with this man, Mary threw Maggie out into the streets, condemning her to a life of evil. Eventually, Pete decided he no longer wished to see Maggie. Therefore, Maggie had no other place to go. She was driven into prostitution and eventually suicide. The theme of this novel is that the environment in which one lives in will affect the way in which the person will become when they are older. This is proven by the characterization of Jimmie and Mary, the setting of this novel, and the characterization of Maggie Johnson. Jimmie Johnson went after whatever he wanted. The only thing that would stand in his way was a person of greater power. He often dreamed of wealth and fortune. “When he had a dollar in his pocket his satisfaction was with existence was the greatest thing in the world.” Also, there were two different women in different parts of the city who had had children by him. Jimmie did not care about those children. However, when Jimmie found out that Maggie had been sleeping with Pete, he denounced his sister’s actions. But when Jimmie slept with various women, this seemed permissible in his mind. He suffered from a sense of self-delusion that he was unshaken against a world that was constantly trying to take advantage of. “To him…the rest of the world was composed, for the most part, of despicable creatures who were all taking to...
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