Naturalistic Elements in “Maggi: a Girl of the Streets”

Topics: Stephen Crane, Nature, Bowery Pages: 4 (1215 words) Published: November 17, 2008
Steven Crane is one of many American writers whose name has become synonymous with the literary movement naturalism. Naturalism cannot be simply defined as it is a conglomeration of elements which contribute to create a style of writing. Naturalistic works are generally pessimistic and frank in nature, the environment is often grotesque with the characters being products of this environment, their fate is bound by materialistic determinism, and authors do a large amount of research on the subject matter. “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” contains all of these elements which are typical of a piece of literature within the naturalistic movement. “Maggie” begins with a gang of children beating up one of the main characters, Jimmie, and an older boy, Pete comes to his rescue. This is an event that happens in almost every child’s life but Crane immediately sets the tone by depicting the many adult bystanders as some watched with interest and others with disregard. He furthers the dark outlook as jimmy’s father broke the fight up by kicking into the fighting boys and threatening to beat the life out of his own son. He then proceeds to describe the horrible home life of Jimmie’s family. Immediately one begins to feel as though no good could come from a situation such as this. The gloomy theme continues as we begin to realize that both of his parents are alcoholics and abusive to their family. The shouting match that ensues after Jimmy is brought home ends in the father leaving to the bar only to return and fight with his mother. Crane uses imagery as the fight proceeds, “howls and curses, groans and shrieks, confusingly in chorus as if a battle was raging”(Crane 963). By this point in the readers have a grim outlook on the whole situation. To add to the chaos the baby of the family, Tommie, dies and is buried in “a white insignificant coffin” (964). When the main character Maggie is introduced a slight upswing takes place. Maggie despite her surroundings...

Cited: Colvert, James B. "Steven Crane." Dictionary of Literary Biography,Volume 12: American Realists and Naturalists 1982: 100-124.
Crane, Stephen. "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Reidhead. Vol. C. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. 957-1000.
Garnett, Edward. "Steven Crane and his Work." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism Vol.11 1921: 126-129.
Walcutt, Charles Child. "Stephen Carne: Naturalist and Impressionist." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism Vol.11 1956: 144.
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