Struggle of Immigrants in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

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  • Topic: Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Bowery
  • Pages : 2 (731 words )
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  • Published : March 12, 2012
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Eli Bannow
History 149
Professor Palenscar
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, by Stephen Crane illustrates the struggle of immigrants trying to “make it” in a lower Manhattan neighborhood. The disassembled family is made up of the father, Mary, Jimmie, Maggie, and Tommie. Maggie struggles with attempting to improve her life an attempt to leave her family and be sufficient on her own. Maggie did have choices in what she was going to do after leaving her family, but those choices were all “do this or you might die.” If Maggie had not made those choices, she would have died because they were necessary to survive. Although Maggie had a choice, there was no real choice other than the choice to want to live.

Maggie’s first choice was the choice to work in the shirt factory. This was a necessity because her mother was a raging alcoholic and her brother was an enraged failure. Maggie had to work if she wanted to get out of the house, lead a better life, and survive. The Bowery is described as: “The loud gallery was overwhelmingly with the unfortunate and the oppressed. They encouraged the struggling hero with cries, and jeered the villain, hooting and calling attention to her whiskers. When anybody died in the pale-green snowstorms, the gallery mourned. They sought out the painted misery and hugged it as akin.”(Pg. 23). Maggie lives in a very depressed and impoverished neighborhood, with oppressed and judgmental neighbors who only mourn losses, not unfortunate circumstance. Many immigrants coming to the U.S. during the industrial revolution settled for sup-par jobs and living conditions because some food on the table was better than starvation.

Maggie’s next choice is choosing to live with Pete. When her drunken mother comes home to Pete trying to take Maggie out, she goes into a rampage, saying “Yer a disgrace teh yer people, damn you.”(Pg. 57). Maggie was pushed by her mother to leave. She didn’t make a choice; an alcoholic mother...
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