Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Places Discussed

Stephen Crane

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Maggie’s home

Maggie’s home. Apartment in Manhattan’s Rum Alley in which Maggie lives with her parents and brother. Her father and mother are both alcoholics, and her mother, despite her piety, is particularly given to violence. Stephen Crane often describes the shambles of the troubled home: bloody fights, broken items, loud, vulgar language, and drunken stupors. Maggie’s father, though mostly absent in Maggie’s life, describes their home as “reg’lar livin’ hell! Damndes’ place!” The abuse that Maggie and her brother Jimmy experience causes Maggie to fantasize about places beyond the interior of her home. She is thus easily attracted to a flamboyant barkeep, Pete, who can take her to places outside the misery of her home’s four walls.

Maggie’s relationship with Pete eventually results in her expulsion from her home. In her subsequent aimless wandering she finally confronts Pete with the haunting question, “where kin I go?” This question epitomizes the tragic and futile relationship of Maggie to the places of this novel. Pete’s answer, “go teh hell,” pushes her to the point of desperation. She is eventually found in the gloomy districts near the river. In other words her descent has reached its social and moral nadir.

After it is clear that Maggie is dead, the final scene of the novel returns to the interior of her home where her mother, in pitiful self-indulgence and brazen denial of reality, forgives her. Thus, readers are brought full circle to see how the family environment into which Maggie was born is part of a larger social system that destroys innocent and unsuspecting flowers like...

(The entire section is 683 words.)