Morals are something that we all have. They are our opinions on the world and they define who we are as people. Not everyone has the same moral code, and not everyone follows their own at times. However, we judge others based on how they act on their moral code. In Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, the characters go against their morals all the time, and they publically side with the common beliefs. In his novel, Crane delivers the theme of moral hypocrisy through irony and characterization. .
Maggie's family publicly shames her for acts they think she has committed when they commit acts far worse than her own. Mary Johnson is a drunken woman who wants nothing more than to draw all attention to herself. She physically and emotionally abuses her children, yet it is her daughter who has "gone to the devil" simply by going out on a date with a man. Mary tells her daughter, "Yer, a disgrace tyre people. An' now, git out an' go ahn wid dat doe-faced jude of yours" (Crane 37). Mary accuses Maggie of being a disgrace to her family when on multiple occasions she has stumbled home, drunk, while Maggie mothers her siblings. The irony in this is that Maggie is the one who is thrown out of her home, for committing a sin that she has not yet committed while her mother continues to be gluttonous, going against all the morals she publically claims she has. Maggie's brother, Jimmie, is also morally hypocritical. However, the difference between Mary and her son is that Jimmie briefly realizes that he is a hypocrite for doing the same thing to other girls as Pete does to his own sister. Crane alludes to this when he writes, "It occurred to him to wonder vaguely, for an instant, if some of the women of his acquaintance had brothers" (39). Jimmie has gotten a couple of girls pregnant and left them and his children to fend for themselves but is upset, briefly, that Pete is using Maggie in his own game.