Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Martha E. Cook, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen T. Flanagan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Massie C. Stinson, Ph.D.


During the 1890’s, two American novels, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (A Story of New York) written by Stephen Crane and The Awakening written by Kate Choplin, deal with the lives and death of two surprisingly similar young women living in different social standing and regions. Even though the novels are written by opposite sexes with opposite setting and have quite culturally different protagonists, they share the Naturalistic themes of biological determinism, which is expressed through the use of animal imagery and animal symbolism. Crane does not allow Maggie to have positive aspirations, making her appear less human and more animal-like than Edna. Maggie appears to be doomed to be swallowed up by her overpowering, violent, dark environment from the onset of the novel. Chopin allows Edna to dream about achieving her desire for social freedom even if her dreams do not come true, and the reader is led to believe that she has some chance, although slim, for survival. Both writers recognize the impact of nature upon character, it seems almost as if Crane knows from the beginning that Maggie cannot fly away to survive alone in the concrete jungle, while Chopin keeps hoping that Edna will become strong, perhaps fly free of the powerful hold of her environment, yet can finally only give her dignity in death.



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