characterization of Jimmie and Mary contribute to the theme of fate versus free
will and advocates for the idea that the environment that one lives in will
directly affect the person that they become when they’re older.
is the ultimate product of his surroundings, reflecting the nasty attitudes of
his parents and his neighborhood. He personifies the violence and
relentlessness of living life in the city and is doesn’t believe in anything as
the world hasn’t given him much to believe in. Jimmie’s angry ways are
demonstrated in his refusal to forgive his sister for her moral foibles and
tosses her to the street despite knowing that there is no hope for her in doing
so. Even though she may not have known better in her mistakes, Jimmie expresses
the hardness that he’s acquired from his loss with humanity and just doesn’t
Maggie’s mother, has lost her husband and raised her children in poverty and
drinks to forget the pain in the reality of her life. Her drunken self was
violent and intimidating to her children and she would often badmouth them to
the neighborhood. Mrs. Johnson’s cruel and alcoholic personality can hardly be
that of a responsible, caring mother and is in no way a role model for her
children. It is obvious that she does not understand the unconditional love of
a mother when she throws Maggie out of the house and disowns her.
is desperate and trying to survive however possible once her family and her
boyfriend leave her. She has been exposed to an awful lifestyle and is driven
into prostitution as a means of survival. Eventually, she is left with no
option besides suicide due to the breach between her intolerant realities and
is the only character actively trying to get out of Bowery and escaping her
fate but she is unable to do so. Her attempt and failure even though she
doesn’t replicate many of the attitudes and character traits of her family
indicates that everyone is stuck in this cycle of violence and poverty and destined
to live out their lives of misery.
Maggie is just someone with dreams and hopes
just like the ambitions of any other girl. Should she have been born anyone
else and grown up elsewhere, she may have had a chance at achieving those hopes
and dreams. However, her family’s neglect, unusually harsh treatment, and
unstable system ultimately decide her future and deem her powerless in her
effort to develop her own character.