Maggie: A Girl On the Streets The problems that were faced by Maggie, and many other women in the lower social-economic levels during the Gilded Age, are almost unbearable to imagine. She faced discrimination, attachment issues, and grew up with a dysfunctional family that failed to show affection. Fortunately for Maggie, she wasn’t like the people she lived around. As Stephen Crane put it, “None of the dirt of Rum Alley seemed to be in her veins” (Maggie 16). This unique feature acquired by Maggie gave her the ability to improve her chance, even by a slim chance.
Maggie grew up with a family who would have been classified as the low-class, in the scums of New York City. This is where Maggie naturally sets back her chances on eventually leaving her awful neighborhood, also known as Rum Alley. The name of the neighborhood basically describes the type of neighborhood it really is. It’s filled with many alcoholic families, with children who don’t receive the affection that they deserve from their elders. This unfortunately makes it difficult for Maggie to find help inside her neighborhood, which forces her to make good decisions inside her neighborhood.
Maggie was discriminated on mainly for one reason: for being a woman. During this time period, women were socially accepted inside the house, but not out of it. On the streets was where men were found whether they were working, or drinking at the local tavern. Women at this time were harassed unapologetically. For example, when Pete comes to Maggie’s house he tells her, “I’m stuck on yer shape. It’s outa sight. ” (Maggie 19). Maggie didn’t want to end up as a low-life scum living as a housewife when she became older. She wanted to be somebody. Discrimination of women and lower-class citizens unfairly held Maggie back from the start.
She had a slim-to-none chance. Maggie suffered attachment issues numerous times in the novel. She became afraid to befriend anyone because all of her previous attachments had left her. Maggie finds herself falling for a young man named Pete. Pete comes off as a nice gentleman, but behind his good looks is just another boy looking for a good time. He keeps this hidden from Maggie until after he seduces her into having sex, then leaves her. Maggie’s brother, Jimmie, abandons her after Maggie “brings disgrace on the family” after having sex with Pete. Maggie’s mother, Mary, abandons her after Maggie runs away from home.
Mary blames Maggie on her immorality instead of considering her own alcohol problem. As stated before, Rum Alley was occupied with several alcohol-induced dwellers that participated in lower-class activities such as street fighting. Maggie’s family wasn’t any exception. Both Maggie’s parents were extreme alcoholics. Mary was destructive as they get. Considered the incarnation of the devil, Mary is hypocritical enough to condemn her daughter for immorality. Maggie’s father, Mr. Johnson, is only referred to his last name in the book. He isn’t in the novel for very long until he dies.
What is seen of Mr. Johnson is a brutally violent father who dwells at the bars every night to escape the “living hell” at home. Jimmie is Maggie’s brother. In spite of the abuse he receives at home, he fights on the streets. Jimmie is a hotheaded fighter that refuses to back down. For example,”’Naw,’ responded Jimmie with a valiant roar, ‘dese micks can’t make me run,’” Jimmie says in one of the first lines in the book (Maggie 1). Although Jimmie and Maggie seem to somewhat get along in the beginning of the novel, Jimmie ends up scorning Maggie and blaming her for what happened with Pete.
Jimmie is hypocritical in his reasoning because he too has seduced and abandoned women in the past. Maggie grew up in a place with no hope; a place where many are born and never leave. Maggie had a vision to leave Rum Alley. This vision eventually seemed out of her grasp, and she decided to end her life because of it. Maggie overcame many obstacles in her life including discrimination, attachment issues, and faced an abusive and dysfunctional family her entire life. Maggie is a great example of a visionary, or one who thinks about the future with imagination and wisdom. We could all use a little Maggie’s vision in us.