Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Themes

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Poverty

The impetus for the misery the characters endure in the novel is the abject state of poverty in which they live. Their tenement is inhabited by "true assassins" who prey on anyone in their path. Nearby "a worm of yellow convicts . . . [crawl] slowly along the river's bank." The Johnsons' building "quivered and creaked from the weight of humanity stamping about in its bowels." In this atmosphere, children like Maggie's younger brother Tommie die. Family life is destroyed as Mr. And Mrs. Johnson drink themselves into oblivion to escape the reality of their lives and then take their drunken wrath out on their children. The streets become schoolyards where Jimmie and his friends learn how to foster within themselves the brutality they must endure. Maggie's dreams of escaping her impoverished existence lead her to the mind-numbing work at the collar and cuff factory and eventually to Pete. When Pete...

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This section contains 1,403 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Study Guide
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