Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

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Hart Crane (1899—1932) American poet


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Novel by Stephen Crane, privately issued (1893) under the pseudonym Johnston Smith, but not regularly published until 1896.

In a slum district of New York City called Rum Alley, Maggie Johnson and her brother Jimmie are the maltreated and neglected children of a brutal workingman and his dipsomaniac wife. Maggie, attractive though ignorant and ill cared for, somehow preserves an inner core of innocence in her miserable, filthy environment. She finds work as a collar maker in a sweatshop, while Jimmie becomes a truck driver, typically hard-boiled and fight-loving. Their mother, now widowed, is constantly drunk and has acquired a lengthy police record. Maggie falls in love with Jimmie's tough friend Pete, a bartender, who easily seduces her. For a brief time she lives with Pete, having been melodramatically disowned by her mother. Jimmie offers only the questionable assistance of administering a beating to his former friend. Pete abandons Maggie, who becomes a prostitute for a few months. Then, heartbroken and unable to succeed in this uneasy, exacting occupation, she commits suicide. Her mother makes a great display of grief, sends Jimmie to fetch home the body, and allows herself to be persuaded by her drinking companions to “forgive” her “bad, bad child.”

Subjects: Literature.

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Stephen Crane (1871—1900) writer

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