Study Guide

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets Men and Masculinity

By Stephen Crane

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Men and Masculinity

Male self-esteem in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets is all about displays of masculinity. But we're not just talking about flexing muscles and talking smack—we're talking about brutal violence, protecting territory, and defending reputations. To be a man in this book is to be violent. Needless to say, then, the Bowery is not a woman's world at all. The only women we really see are drunkards, entertainers, and prostitutes. The ladies are either stuck in the house or out working in unbearable conditions, hoping they can hack it in a man's world.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. What does our final image of Pete suggest about his masculinity? Dig deep for this one, Shmoopers.
  2. What is Mr. Johnson's masculinity based on? Is his death a commentary on his masculinity?
  3. Do men care about women in this novel? Use the text to support your claim.
  4. Is it possible for a woman to adopt masculine qualities as a tool of survival in this book? Again, please be specific.

Chew on This

Masculinity cannot sustain itself in this book—it makes men implode and stunts their lives.

For all of the ways in which this is a man's world, Jimmie and Maggie's mom runs the show in their family.

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