Naturalism is founded on the concept of post Darwinian philosophy which identifies the human being in the order of nature as a higher being, and explains that human behaviour and character are indomitable by the surroundings. There is a fundamental element of fatalistic and deterministic approach that an individual is element of the situation which models the person’s character and settles on the events of the person. In “Maggie”: Stephen Crane includes the idea of naturalism into the novella and the main characters. From the story, various scenes indicate that Maggie and Jimmie are modelled in their figures as children of violence and poverty. In these scenes, it is actually clear that Maggie and Jimmie are living a hard life against their wish; this is due to the exposure of hostility from their parents and the villainous circumstances that they are exposed to. These situations force them to find a way to live through the worst situations, like for instance Jimmie flees from home to seek refuge, “...Jimmie flees the apartment, seeking shelter with an old woman who lives in the same tenement house”. Jimmie is forced to adapt to a particular situation so that he can survive, for instance, where Jimmie goes to seek refuge, the old lady requests him to go and get beer so that he can be allowed into the house. The scenes show that the act of free will is not present in their behaviour because they have to obey the circumstances that they are in.
In “Maggie”, the heading character surely falls victim to her surroundings and to the family factors. The impoverishment that Maggie is brought up in deeply affects her perception of Pete, making her to believe that Pete is a respectable man who truly loves her and cares about her happiness, which is opposite of Pete because he is a meritless man. As the author narrates about Maggie on how she realized the fact “Her developing affair with Pete, and the morals of the rags-to-riches melodramas he takes her to see, give Maggie vain hope that she might one day rise out of abject poverty”. Her oppression at the hands of her mother and brother frightens Maggie. As Stephen Crane illustrates how the combative Jimmie gets into a fight with Maggie, first his aggression seems nothing compared to what is to come. This representation depicts that Maggie is to face much worse situation than what Jimmie is doing, the writer brings this to light when he writes “The children, terrified of their mother, shrink into the corners. When Maggie breaks a plate, Mary again becomes apoplectic with fury, and Jimmie flees the apartment, seeking shelter with an old woman who lives in the same tenement house”. These two conditions explain the horror that Maggie experiences from her mother and brother (Spargo 154).
Maggie’s death occurs mysteriously with almost no information about the causes of the death, another sign of the universe indifference to her brief life. Maggie uses her free will when she commits suicide. Her mother’s violence pushed her to commit suicide, but these was not the case because she wanted to survive despite her mother’s violence. This is true in the fact that if the situation on her life was different from birth to her death, things would have been different and it would not result to her tragic death. Even though she died against her original will, the decision to commit suicide was accepted by Maggie. The decision she made was to separate herself from the worst circumstances. Despite the fact that Maggie has committed suicide, her death overturns the fact that the circumstance cornered her to do what she did (Campbell 172).
In the first few paragraphs, Crane illustrates a picture of how the children are doomed by the environment. When Crane introduces the children who seem to be fighting and mentions how the children’ utter names sound barbaric, “dodging hurling stones and swearing in barbaric trebles”; it becomes clear that the children are exposed to an environment of mothers who do not have the time to instil virtuality into the kids. The same behaviour has extended to the parents who are alcoholics and mothers who are hostile to their children. In Maggie’s case, Mary, who is her mother, is very violent to her and as Crane describes her, she is a “large rampant woman”. These factors had resulted from the addiction to alcohol that Maggie’s mother had adopted, and from that they lost Maggie’s younger brother Tommie who passed away as an infant. The author describes her cruelty towards Maggie by describing her terrifying nature during the fight with her husband and when Maggie broke the plate. Maggie is brought up in an environment which is unhealthy for young children, full of violence and with parents who are constantly fighting. As Stephen Crane describes Mary, she is irresponsible mother, who does not even know how to treat her kids, this forces Maggie to behave irresponsibly by indulging in prostitution which forces her mother at some point to kick her out of the house because she claims she is impure, and Maggie is forced to live on the streets. Maggie being a helpless child is forced to live a street life.
Finally Maggie struggles to overcome her conditions of family and violence but which each effort, there is an impression that the Darwian struggle between her and the society is an impracticable force to fight.