Victim of Violence and Morality
Stephen Crane’s novella
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets tells a tragic story about the unfortunate life of a young girl named Maggie and her family. Maggie lives in the Bowery with her brothers Jimmie and Tommie, and her terribly abusive parents. The novella highlights the daily tragedy Maggie endures and offers no glimpse of hope to her or her family. Crane’s naturalist style of writing conveys bleak surroundings and dull routine living that ultimately breaks down everyone living in the Bowery.
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is a story of destruction, by both violence and morality. Maggie is beaten down by the Bowery until she finally see’s no escape. She ended her life to flee the violent Bowery. In doing so, she found freedom, the only way she knew how.
Violence is a major theme in
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.
Within the first three chapters of the novella Jimmie fights a rival gang, Jimmie’s father kicks his him, and his parents get in intense fights. Maggie is beaten by her mother, who in turn breaks a bunch of furniture in a drunken rage. In the Bowery, it seems like every conflict results in quarrel. Stephen Crane wrote in a naturalistic style. In his writing, he made sure that the characters were unable to overcome their biological chains. Maggie’s parents are terrible role models, and they are unfit to be parents.
Maggie, and her siblings are unable to escape the biological mold set forth by their parents.
When Jimmie gets in a fight, he is reprimanded by being kicked by his father. When Maggie
drags a suffering Tommie home, she is beaten by her mother. According to Emile Zola, “you are a product of your environment” . As a result of being brought up in a violent household and living in a slum, Maggie ended her life violently by committing suicide.
Morality is questioned in this novella, especially when it comes to Maggie’s decisions in men, and in her profession. Because the characters in the book are products of their environment, everyone has a little piece of the Bowery within them. In Maria Luisa Saminstrado’s literary analysis she describes the bowery to contain have “slum residents who flounder in abject poverty where dysfunctional families, alcohol addictions, verbal and physical altercations, lack of education, and prostitution are a normal reality.” (63) Maggie acts according to the demands of her environment and her actions are determined by what she learns from her surroundings. In the environment of the Bowery,the only guarantee for survival is strength. Maggie falls in love with Pete not because she sees him for what he is but because she's never known anything better.
In her first encounter with him she hears him describe his greatness when it comes to fighting.
Maggie's attraction to Pete is not due to her romantic notions but to her very real need for a protector. Maggie knows enough that to survive she needs not only strength, but money. Maggie lands a job as a seamstress, but her attempts to improve her living conditions are undermined by her mother’s drunken rage. Maggie moves in with Pete, because he is all that she has. But
Maggie set her mind toward romanticism rather than survival and strength. And it was her failure to see Pete clearly that led to her seduction. She failed to see him as deceptive and coercive. Pete is later convinced by a woman named Nellie that Maggie is not worth his time at all. As a result she is kicked out of Petes home, and rendered alone again. Maggie tries moving back in with her
mother, but she is harshly rejected and scorned. Maggie is left without worth, both monetarily and emotionally, leaving her in ruins.
Forced by needs of money,