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.)

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

Naturalism is the name of a literary movement that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in...

(The entire section is 474 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Colvert writes that in the novel, Crane “eschewed the conventional plot, shifting the focus from the drama of...

(The entire section is 296 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is considered a classic example of American naturalism. Naturalist philosophy held that people are...

(The entire section is 1654 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Discussion of Maggie could easily begin with an examination of the relationship between a person's environment and the circumstances...

(The entire section is 200 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The action of Maggie: A. Girl of the Streets takes place entirely within the confines of New York's Bowery district. Everything the...

(The entire section is 805 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

Late Nineteenth Century: In 1888, the International Council of Women is founded to mobilize support for the woman’s suffrage...

(The entire section is 285 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Why do you think Maggie has never been made into a film? What difficulties would a filmmaker face in trying to create a cinematic...

(The entire section is 158 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Framing discussions of morality in slum settings was very popular in the late 1800s. Many authors sought to make morality plays out of...

(The entire section is 374 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Maggie was Crane's first novel and represents both his own wrestling with how to see people versus society and his first extended...

(The entire section is 141 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

A recorded version of the novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other New York Stories was produced in 1997 by the American Library...

(The entire section is 25 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

The Awakening (1899) is Kate Chopin’s novel of a young woman who struggles between the prescribed role of wife and mother and the...

(The entire section is 134 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Colvert, James B., “Stephen Crane,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 12, American Realists and...

(The entire section is 158 words.)


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Gandal, Keith. “Stephen Crane’s Maggie and the Modern Soul.” English Literary History 60, no. 3 (Fall, 1993): 759-785. Argues that the novel is not about Maggie’s moral decline but her loss of self-confidence and self-defensiveness. Asserts that Maggie fails not in trying to redeem her sinful nature—the old story of the fallen woman—but in overcoming self-doubt and cowardice, making it a modern psychological tale.

Golemba, Henry. “‘Distant Dinners’ in Stephen Crane’s Maggie: Representing ‘The Other Half.’” Essays in Literature 21, no. 2 (Fall, 1994): 235-250. Crane uses food imagery to suggest the realist’s problem. By feeding the reader’s taste for...

(The entire section is 246 words.)