People in general like to think they control more of their lives than they actually do. The idea of naturalism has many different aspects to it. The idea is all about man’s internal struggle for power against nature. The novel Maggie a Girl of the Streets, written by Steven Crane illustrates just how ones life can be affected by the surrounding environment, and that person does not have a large amount of control over their life. Crane expresses that Maggie has little control over her life and its outcome.
One example that shows Maggie has little control over her life is her personal appearance. Maggie is a girl from an awful background with drunken parents and a small tenement she lives in. In general, one would expect someone from such an origin to be unattractive due to the fact she lacks the care it takes to become attractive. One occurrence of this is when Crane says, “The girl Maggie, blossomed in a mud puddle. She grew to be a most rare and wonderful production of a tenement district, a pretty girl” (13). This quote tells the reader that Maggie is a pretty girl, which is rare in her conditions. Maggie, being born in such a horrid environment, is unlucky to be born with such good looks.
She cannot control what she looks like and in the end defies the odds by turning out to be pretty. Nature is indifferent about all things and the fact that Maggie is attractive proves that no matter ones circumstances nature is uncaring. Later in the novel Maggie becomes a prostitute who has to make her money from working on the street. Crane says, “A girl of the painted cohorts of the city went along the street. She threw changing glances at men who passed her, giving smiling invitations to men…” (48). This quote shows us that Maggie has now become a prostitute. Maggie’s good looks influence her fate heavily.
The main reason Maggie is capable of being a Prostitute has much to do with the fact that she is a pretty girl. The choice that Maggie makes is the only one she has in her situation. If Maggie had been in a different situation she would not be a prostitute, but she was born into a horrible family. This speaks to the idea that Maggie’s life is warped by the environment in which she lives and there is almost nothing she can do to escape it. Even though Maggie is born pretty, she still has no control over her life and its outcome; her good looks are not enough to save her from her terrible life.
Another example that shows Maggie’s lack of control over her life is the way her family behaves. Maggie is a girl that is born into an alcoholic family. Her mother and father drink often and her brother Jimmie is always getting into fights. In the novel Crane says, “The man grabbed his hat and rushed from the room, apparently determined upon a vengeful drunk” (6). In this situation, Crane describes Maggie’s dad leaving after a fight with her mother. Her parents act like this quite often and it has a large effect on Maggie. Maggie has no control over what her family does and how they act so, one could imagine her struggles. While Maggie may have control over some things, her family is a large part of her living environment and their actions directly affect her in a negative way.
Crane conveys the actions of Maggie’s parents in such a way that it appears Maggie cannot escape their grasp. Maggie’s life is also very affected by what her brother Jimmie does. Crane says, “Jimmie publicly damned his sister that he might appear on a higher social plane” (38). In this situation, Jimmie damns his sister. This shows how unsupportive and cruel Maggie’s own family can be to her. Maggie again has no control over the actions of her family, yet her family’s actions greatly affect her live. This is unavoidable for Maggie and there is no way out of her families clutches. Crane wants the reader to see just how little Maggie has control over her own life. Not even a girl like Maggie can change some aspects of her life. Maggie’s family is one of her downfalls and in the end leads to the death of her.
Crane expresses many times in this novel that Maggie has very little control over her life. He speaks to the fact that Maggie has a terrible life and no matter what she does, she just cannot overcome that. Maggie was born with the qualities that would make her an important part of society, but because of her situation, her life does not play out so perfectly. She is a beautiful girl, which tragically leads to be the main cause of her death. Maggie also had very little in her life that she could control like the way her family treated her. In general, people do not realize how little they actually control in their lives and that sometimes it is impossible to break natures grasp on ones fate.
Courtney from Study Moose
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