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Maggie Johnson, a girl who is raised in the juncture between abuse and sentimental fantasy.
On one level, the antagonist is Mrs. Johnson, Maggie’s mother, who inspires most of the violence of her home and who forces Maggie to live on the streets. On another level, the antagonist of the novel is the economic and social world into which Maggie is born. The social and economic forces of her society inevitably push Maggie from a sweatshop to the life of prostitution.
The first time Pete takes Maggie to a dance hall comprises the climax of the novella. This experience teaches Maggie the sentimental values of the melodrama. She begins to regard her looks as a commodity that can earn her economic security.
The outcome is predictable from the first page. Maggie dies after a miserable downfall in which she prostitutes herself to the dregs of society and her mother reacts by forgiving her for her sins.