Maggie; A girl of the Streets Pertaining to Gender Inequality
Stephen Crane’s Maggie; A Girl of the Streets depicts the shockingly harsh and destitute lives that many people had to sustain in turn of the 20th century New York City. It reveals a disturbing realism of slum life and poor living conditions, and addresses several social forces that occurred during this time. Prominently, this story tackles the idea of gender inequality and discrimination. Maggie, the main character of this novella, adheres to the ideology of her time, making her a victim to her cruel family and the cruel society. This ideology highly affects Maggie’s character and life, and essentially shapes the entirety of the novella.
Stephen Crane opens this story with a young Jimmie Johnson fighting in the street against a gang of boys. Jimmie, who is Maggie’s brother, returns home to Maggie, their baby brother Tommie, and their ruthless alcoholic parents. The children’s home life is nothing short of horrendous. Their mother is a gruesome, animalistic woman who is despised by everyone, and their father is a brutal, negative, angry drunk. The parents scream and argue and the children are left shuddering in the corner out of fright and despair. Tommie and the father die soon after the introduction of the story, leaving Jimmie to grow just as brutal, aggressive, and cynical as their father had been. Maggie, on the other hand, gets a job at a shirt factory and begins to dates Jimmies friend, Pete. Pete, a seemingly suave and sophisticated man, takes Maggie out to theaters and museums and treats her well. Maggie, unlike the rest of her family, seems almost unaffected by the misery that surrounds her. She does everything in her power to try to break away from the dysfunctional and broken situation that she was born into. Her efforts are subverted, though, by Jimmie and their mother’s rages. According to her family, she disgraces them by leaving the slummy tenement where they live, to be with Pete....
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