Maggie: a Girl of the Streets

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Stephen Crane wrote many short stories, one of which was Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. His stories contained various aspects of Naturalism, a literary movement that sought to replicate a believable everyday reality, as opposed to Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment. Poverty, abuse and a survival of the fittest way of life created an environment which Maggie was negatively influenced by. Her environment is made up of many circumstances that affect her, one of which is poverty. Maggie grew up in poverty, living out her childhood in a shabby apartment in Rum Alley. This poverty influenced her beliefs. The story says “when Pete arrived Maggie, in a worn black dress, was waiting…,” (18). In comparison, Pete was said to wear nice clothes such as “his blue double-breasted coat, edged with black braid, buttoned close to a res puff tie, and his patent-leather shoes,” (14). Maggie has her “worn dress” and as such she sees herself as lowly. The effect of the poverty is emphasized when Maggie, while observing Pete, ponders “She vaguely tried to calculate the altitude of the pinnacle from which he must have looked down upon her,” (16). This statement shows how, at this point in her life she sees other people above her. The poverty caused her to think this way- it influenced her in ways so subtle and yet so big. It was this thinking caused by the poverty which led to her seeking out Pete’s strength. The poverty stricken environment in which Maggie lived is one in which only the strong survive or one who adapts. The women are described as “formidable women, with uncombed hair and disordered dress,” (4). They are survivors. They have no time for looking nice, they are working to be strong and survive. Maggie, on the other hand, “grew to be a most rare and wonderful production of a tenement district, a pretty girl,” (13). She is not strong in that aspect and as such she sought out a...
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