The Outsiders Literature Response
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton original copyright 1967 The protagonists in the book are the Greasers and the antagonists are the Socs.
The main characters are Darry, Soda, Dally, Bob, Ponyboy, and Johnny. Darry is tall, muscular, smart and very strict towards Ponyboy. Darry yells at Ponyboy and always seems to expect better from Ponyboy. For example, Darry yells at Ponyboy on page 49, “Where the heck have you been? Do you know what time it is? He was madder than I had seen him in along time. I shook my head wordlessly. ” Soda is always optimistic and lighthearted.
One of the only things that bring Soda down is the fact that he is a school dropout who works at a gas station. Soda tries to support Pony when Darry is mad at him but tries not to take sides. Soda explains how he doesn’t like when Darry and Pony fight when he says, “It’s just…I can’t stand to hear y’all fight. Sometimes I have to get out or…it’s like I’m the middleman in a tug o’ war and I’m being split in half (page 175). ” Dally’s actions, like robbing a store, makes him seem like he is mean and tough but actually he is a very caring person on the inside.
An example is when Dally enters the burning church to save Pony and says, “For Pete’s sake, get outa there! That roof is going to cave in any minute. ” Bob is rich and undisciplined by his parents who make him feel like he has the power to do anything he pleases. Bob is intimidating to the Greasers like Johnny and Pony because he has the ability to do almost anything he wants. An example of Bob picking on Pony and Johnny is when he orders a Soc to give Ponyboy a bath in the park fountain by drowning him as a sort of cruel joke (page 55). Ponyboy is more emotional than all of the Greasers and takes feelings in to deeper consideration.
Pony is not as violent as other Greasers and is very friendly. An example is when Pony went to the drive-in movie; he easily became friends with the popular Soc cheerleader, Cherry. This shows a lot about his personality because most Socs wouldn’t even want to talk to a Greaser. Johnny is shy, defenseless, and small for his age. He is harshly bullied by the Socs and by his parents. For instance on page 33, Pony describes how Johnny was mugged by the Socs, “They caught him and one of them had a lot of rings on his hand—that’s why they had cut Johnny up so adly. It wasn’t just that they had beaten him half to death—he could take that. They had scared him. ” The setting takes place in a rough town somewhere in the U. S. around the 1960’s. The town is infested with crimes and delinquents. It’s socially divided into two parts, the east where the low-class Greasers live, and the west where the rich Socs live. The Greasers and the Socs are strong rivals who always take the opportunity to fight each other. Therefore, it makes walking down the street a dangerous task with the possibility of being mugged.
An example of the environment of this town is in the scene where Ponyboy is mugged by the Socs while he was walking himself home from the movie theater. It’s dangerous for people like Pony to even walk on the city streets without risking being cut up by a Soc. The story starts out with Pony being jumped by the Socs until Pony’s gang rescues him. The next night Pony, Dally, and Johnny go to a drive-in movie and meet two girl Socs, Cherry and Marcia. By the end of the night Pony and Cherry become good friends. Before returning home Pony and Johnny go to a vacant lot to talk.
They both fell asleep in the lot and woke up around 2 A. M. Pony goes back home only to find Darry as mad as ever. Darry lectures Pony about his curfew and ends up hitting him. Ponyboy becomes overwhelmed and decides to run away with Johnny. Pony and Johnny walk to the park until they notice the Socs approaching them. Bob is mad that the Cherry and Marcia were interacting with the Greasers; so he decides to mug both Johnny and Pony. The Socs begin to drown Ponyboy in the fountain until Johnny stabs Bob. The Socs then began to flee.
Ponyboy and Johnny need help from Dally to run away while avoiding being arrested for murder. Dally tells them how to escape to Windrixville and survive behind an old church. Dally checks up on them in a week and tells Johnny that Cherry had testified that the murder had just been an act of self-defense. Johnny decides to turn himself in; so Dally drives them back until they notice that the church was on fire. Pony and Johnny run inside and rescue the kids that are trapped. Pony barely escapes, but Johnny was more severely hurt and ends up dying in the hospital.
Dally becomes depressed because of all the misfortunes so, he commits an armed robbery at a grocery store. The police chase Dally to a lot where they kill him for armed robbery. Pony becomes traumatized because of all of the drastic events and deaths of his close friends. The main conflict in the story is when both Pony and Johnny are jumped at the park by the Socs. The Socs start to drown Pony in the fountain until Johnny stabs Bob. The Socs immediately fled to their cars and drove away. This conflict type person vs. person, in this case it would be the Socs (particularly Bob) vs.
Johnny and Ponyboy. This conflict was external because it was made up actions. A minor conflict would be when Ponyboy is in great sorrow because of Johnny’s recent death. Pony can’t get over the fact that one of his closest friends, who actually deeply cared about him, died just overnight. This conflict type is a person vs. self; this is internal because it involves Pony’s feelings. An example of a person vs. nature conflict is when the church burns down. Johnny and Pony frantically enter the burning church to save the children form the fire.
This is a person vs. nature conflict because the fire, which is part of nature, burns down the church which affects Ponyboy, Johnny, and the children who are trapped inside. The story is told for Ponyboy Curtis’s point of view. The author may have chosen this point of view because it would be easier to understand the story through a fourteen year old boy’s perspective and it may also make the book more appealing to teenagers. This point of view is critical to the story because it’s from the perspective of an outsider who thinks life isn’t fair to them.
This story would have been altered if it were from the point of view of a Soc because the Socs feel as if they can do what ever they want and get what ever they want. If that had happened then the story would have been talking about how bad the Greasers were and how fabulous the Socs were. The mood in this story is bitter and unruly, especially for the Greasers because of their low status in life. The atmosphere is violent because of gang fights and various crimes. The story’s mood and atmosphere change when Pony and Johnny go to the country. The mood changes from harsh to quiet and relaxed because of the smaller population in the country.
Here is an example of a mood and atmosphere change in the country (pg 63), “We lay in the tall weeds and damp grass, breathing heavily. The dawn was coming. It was lightening the sky in the east and a ray of gold touched the hills. The clouds were pink and meadow larks were singing. ” The underlying message and theme of the story is the line, “Stay gold. ” Stay gold means that you should remain young and wondrous because nothing stays gold forever. Johnny’s letter to Ponyboy explains that you are gold when you are a kid. Johnny says that the way Pony like sunsets is gold and to remain gold forever.