Maggie A Girl of the Streets: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. The introductory sentences that establish two of the novel's themes - violence and moral hypocrisy: "A very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley. He was throwing stones at howling urchins from Devil's Row who were circling madly about the heap and pelting at him." (p3)
  2. The description of young Jimmie and Maggie watching their sleeping mother after one of her drunken rampages: "The small frame of the ragged girl was quivering. Her features were haggard from weeping, and her eyes gleamed from fear. She grasped the urchin's arm in her little trembling hands and they huddled in a corner. The eyes of both were drawn, by some force, to stare at the woman's face, for they thought she need only awake and all fiends would come from below." (p13)
  3. Regarding Maggie's thoughts when she first observes Pete: "Maggie perceived that here was the beau ideal of a man. Her dim thoughts were often searching for far away lands where, as God says, the little hills sing together in the morning. Under the trees of her dream-gardens there had always walked a lover." (p19)
  4. Regarding Maggie's state of mind after leaving a melodramatic play: "Maggie always departed with raised spirits from the showing places of the melodrama. She rejoiced at the way in which the poor and virtuous eventually surmounted the wealthy and the wicked. The theatre made her think. She wondered if the culture and refinement she has seem imitated, perhaps grotesquely, by the heroine on the stage, could be acquired by a girl who lived in a tenement house and worked in a shirt factory." (p28)
  5. Mary's denunciation of her daughter that causes her to leave with Pete: "Yeh've gone teh deh devil, Mag Johnson, yehs knows yehs have gone teh deh devil. Yer a disgrace teh yer people, damn yeh. An' now, git out an' go ahn wid dat doe-faced jude [Pete] of yours. Go teh hell wid him, damn yeh, an' a good riddance. Go teh hell an' see how yeh likes it." (p30)
  6. The narrator's observation regarding Jimmie's belief that Maggie was not like other ruined girls: "He was trying to formulate a theory that he had always unconsciously held, that all sisters, excepting his own, could advisedly be ruined." (p33)
  7. Jimmie's observation to his recalcitrant mother that Maggie's absence from home makes the family look bad: "I didn't say we'd make 'er inteh a little tin angel, ner nottin', but deh way it is now she can queer us!" (p41)
  8. Mary's planned response for when Maggie tries to return home: "She kin cry 'er two eyes out on deh stones of the street before I'll dirty deh place wid her. She abused an ill-treated her own mudder - her own mudder what loved her an' she'll never git anodder chance dis side of hell." (p41)
  9. Maggie's feelings after leaving home to be with Pete: "As to the present she perceived only vague reasons to be miserable. Her life was Pete's and she considered him worthy of the charge. She would be disturbed by no particular apprehensions, so long as Pete adored her as he did now said he did. She did not feel like a bad woman. To her knowledge she had never seen any better." (p39)
  10. The melodramatic scene in which Mrs. Smith [the lady in black] comes to comfort Mary upon learning that Maggie has died: "The woman in black raised her face and paused. The inevitable sunlight came streaming in at the windows and shed a ghastly cheerfulness upon the faded hues of the room. Two or three of the spectators were sniffling, and one was loudly weeping. The mourner [Mary] arose and staggered into the other room. In a moment she emerged with a pair of faded baby shoes held in the hollow of her hand. 'I kin remember when she [Maggie] used to wear dem,' cried she. The women burst anew into cries as if they had all been stabbed." (pp57-8)

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