For Crane, he uses Maggie: A Girl of the Streets to tell a story of a girl, born into a life of misery, who has no way of escaping it. Thus, the story strikes an emotional chord in the readers’ hearts and the audience empathizes with Maggie’s conditions. Crane believes in the concept of “lifting the veil” and envisions a society that can look past physical differences. He wants the reader to understand the trails that Maggie endured and that the forces that hindered her were not her fault. She is born a “victim” of society. The dialect that Crane uses explicitly distances the audience from Maggie. Crane purposely wants his audience to understand her hardships and not to judge her actions. The dialect found inside the story separates the reader from the characters, yet still allows us to acknowledge Maggie and “makes room in Heaven for all sorts of souls (notably an occasional street girl) who are confidently expected to be there by many excellent people.” Thus, by “lifting the veil,” Crane allows his readers to see Maggie’s struggles, however, also allowing us to understand when Maggie commits suicide. The opposing forces around her are too large for her to overcome.
Stephen’s father, Jonathan Crane, was a Methodist minister who died in 1880, leaving Stephen, the youngest of 14
children, to be reared by his devout, strong-minded mother. After attending preparatory school at the Claverack
College (1888-90), Crane spent less than two years at college and then went to New York City to live in a medical
students’ boardinghouse while freelancing his way to a literary career. While alternating bohemian student life and
explorations of the Bowery slums with visits to genteel relatives in the country near Port Jervis, N.Y., Crane wrote his
first book, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), a sympathetic study of an innocent and abused slum girl’s descent into
prostitution and her eventual suicide.
Stephen Crane’s Maggie