The Outsiders (novel): Difference between revisions

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===Greaser Main Characters===
 
===Greaser Main Characters===
*'''Ponyboy ""kali jones"" "Pony" Michael Curtis''': Ponyboy is the narrator of the novel and is 14 without a switchblade. He is the youngest of both the greasers and the three orphaned Curtis brothers. He describes himself as having "light brown, almost-red hair and greenish-gray eyes". After he and Johnny run away - because they are afraid of being jailed for killing Bob - Johnny has to cut Ponyboy's 'tuff' hair and bleach it blond with peroxide in order to disguise themselves. He gets good grades in school, but Darry says he doesn't use his head for common sense. He enjoys watching movies, drawing pictures, and reading books more than the other greasers and his brothers. It is also revealed that he is a good runner and is on the A-squad track team, in which he is the youngest. In the last chapter, it is revealed that he is writing the story and that we, as the reader, have just finished reading his theme essay that he wrote for his English teacher.
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*'''Ponyboy ""myspace.com/kali jones619"" "Pony" Michael Curtis''': Ponyboy is the narrator of the novel and is 14 without a switchblade. He is the youngest of both the greasers and the three orphaned Curtis brothers. He describes himself as having "light brown, almost-red hair and greenish-gray eyes". After he and Johnny run away - because they are afraid of being jailed for killing Bob - Johnny has to cut Ponyboy's 'tuff' hair and bleach it blond with peroxide in order to disguise themselves. He gets good grades in school, but Darry says he doesn't use his head for common sense. He enjoys watching movies, drawing pictures, and reading books more than the other greasers and his brothers. It is also revealed that he is a good runner and is on the A-squad track team, in which he is the youngest. In the last chapter, it is revealed that he is writing the story and that we, as the reader, have just finished reading his theme essay that he wrote for his English teacher.
   
 
*'''Johnny "Johnnycake" Cade''': Johnny is the "pet" of the gang and is described that he "had been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers." Raised by an abusive father and an emotionally neglectful mother, he is a vulnerable 16-year-old in a group defined by toughness and a sense of invincibility. Several months prior to the main events of the book, he was beaten severely by several Socs including Bob, whose heavy rings scarred Johnny's face leaving him jumpier than he was before. This beating led Johnny to carry the [[switchblade]] he eventually used to kill Bob. He comes from an abusive home, and hangs out with the gang because they provide him with a surrogate family structure, though he feels that even the gang can't replace the love he wants from his parents. He looks up to Dally and considers him a hero. Johnny dies of injuries suffered when he and Ponyboy save children from a burning church. Previous to being injured he had contemplated suicide, but faced with death he repents. His dying words are "Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold."
 
*'''Johnny "Johnnycake" Cade''': Johnny is the "pet" of the gang and is described that he "had been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers." Raised by an abusive father and an emotionally neglectful mother, he is a vulnerable 16-year-old in a group defined by toughness and a sense of invincibility. Several months prior to the main events of the book, he was beaten severely by several Socs including Bob, whose heavy rings scarred Johnny's face leaving him jumpier than he was before. This beating led Johnny to carry the [[switchblade]] he eventually used to kill Bob. He comes from an abusive home, and hangs out with the gang because they provide him with a surrogate family structure, though he feels that even the gang can't replace the love he wants from his parents. He looks up to Dally and considers him a hero. Johnny dies of injuries suffered when he and Ponyboy save children from a burning church. Previous to being injured he had contemplated suicide, but faced with death he repents. His dying words are "Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold."

Revision as of 20:45, 6 August 2009

The Outsiders
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Author S.E. Hinton
Country United States
Language English
Genre Young Adult Fiction
Publisher Dell Publishing
Publication date
April 24, 1967
Media type Print (soft cover)
Pages 156
ISBN ISBN 0-670-53257-6 (hardcover edition) Invalid ISBN

The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel by Susan Eloise Hinton, first published in 1967 by Viking Press. Hinton was 15 when she began writing the novel[1], and 16 when it was published. The book follows two rival groups, the Greasers and the Socs (pronounced by the author "so-shes", short for Socials), who are divided by their socioeconomic status.

It was included in the American Library Association (ALA)'s top 100 most-frequently challenged books of 1990[2] and came 38th on their 1990-1999 list.[3] The book was challenged in South Milwaukee because of its portrayal of violence, language, drug and alcohol abuse, underage smoking, and the fact that "virtually all the characters were from broken homes".[citation needed]

A film version was produced in 1983.

Plot Notes

The greasers and Socs are two neighborhood groups at opposite ends of the social and economic spectrum, who are in constant conflict with one another. As the novel opens, a greaser named Ponyboy is attacked by a group of Socs as he is leaving a cinema. He is rescued by his two brothers Darry and Sodapop. Later that night Sodapop tells Ponyboy that when Darry yells at him that he doesn't mean it and he really loves him. The next day Ponyboy and two of the members of the gang, Dally and Johnny, go to the movies and meet two Soc girls. Later, Johnny and Ponyboy come to realize that one of the girls, Cherry, isn't that different from him despite being a Soc. They are eventually caught talking with the girls by Bob and Randy, the girls' boyfriends. Things threaten to get ugly until the girls agree to go back with them.

After the movies, Ponyboy and Johnny walk to a lot and fall asleep under the stars. They wake up hours later and Ponyboy rushes home to explain what had happened to his brothers, Darrel (Darry) and Sodapop (Soda). Darrel was extremely worried about Ponyboy's whereabouts, afraid that the Socs had hurt him, and is outraged that Ponyboy did not come home as expected. In a moment of uncontrolled fury he slaps Ponyboy, who runs out of the house, shocked because though he had had run-ins with Darry in the past, he had never been struck before. He goes to Johnny in the vacant lot and wakes him with the intention of running away, but eventually decides to just walk around the park to cool off before returning home. As they approach the park, they are confronted by a now even-more drunk Bob and Randy, along with three of their other Soc friends. Furious with the greasers for even talking to their respective girlfriends, and thinking they had been trying to "pick them up," the five Socs start trying to drown Ponyboy in the park's fountain, and clearly intend to do the same or worse to Johnny. Terrified, recognizing Bob as one of the Socs who had beaten him severely several months earlier, and seeing that the Socs have a knife, Johnny stabs Bob to death with his switchblade. The other Socs run away, and when Ponyboy comes to, Johnny tells him what he has done. Believing themselves to have committed murder (though in reality they would probably not have been prosecuted, as it was a textbook case of self-defense), they find Dallas (Dally) who, having grown up on the streets of New York, knew how to handle such situations. He directs them to an abandoned church on top of a hill in Windrixville (which is a night's train ride away), and gives them money, a gun, and instructions, promising that he'll take them home when it's safe.

The two arrive at the church the next morning, and Johnny buys a copy of "Gone with the Wind" to read, to help pass the time. During the week at the church, Johnny becomes interested in a poem by Robert Frost that Ponyboy recites to him ("Nothing Gold Can Stay"). Johnny also buys baloney and bread, as well as materials for a haircut and bleach to make them less identifiable. They hide out for four and a half days, before Dally comes to find Johnny and Ponyboy. Dally explains that there will be a rumble (street fight) between the greasers and the Socs because of Bob's death. The trio pass the abandoned church again as they are leaving and find it in flames. They learn that a group of schoolchildren on a picnic are trapped inside, and Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally go to rescue them. They successfully rescue all the children, but Johnny is badly injured because the roof fell down on him and is sent to the hospital. While they are there, Ponyboy has a tearful reunion with Sodapop and Darry and as the brothers hug each other tightly, Darrel cries openly—something he hasn't done in years, not even at his parents' funeral—relieved that Ponyboy is alive and safe.

The next day, Ponyboy and Two-Bit visit Johnny and Dally in the hospital. While Dally is recovered for the most part, the prognosis for Johnny looks bleak, as he has spinal injuries that threaten to leave him paralyzed from the waist down. Dally tells Ponyboy and Two-Bit about a rumble between the Greaser and the Socs planned for that night and vows revenge on them for what happened to Johnny. After leaving the hospital, the boys run into Randy Sheppard. He admits to Ponyboy that he isn't participating in the rumble and that he is deeply remorseful about the events that led to Bob's death. Ponyboy knows he is being sincere and feels sympathy for him.

After the greasers win the rumble, Dally and Ponyboy go to the hospital to visit Johnny. Johnny dies of his injuries after hearing about the greasers' victory. His last words are "Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold," in reference to the Robert Frost poem Ponyboy read to Johnny as they were hiding out.

Dally breaks down after Johnny dies, his will to live gone, because Johnny was the only person in the world that he loved and cared for. He robs a store, attracts the attention of the police, and calls on the gang to hide him. They arrive just in time to see Dally pulls his unloaded gun on the police, who subsequently shoot and kill him.

Following these events, Ponyboy briefly goes into a state of delusions, one of which is the belief that he, not Johnny, had killed Bob. But soon afterward a juvenile court judge rules that he can remain with his older brothers, rather than being placed in a boys' home as he had feared. Ponyboy's grades start to deteriorate and to raise them back up he needs to write an essay. He writes a composition about the events that happened to his gang. He is finally able to begin the healing process from the series of traumatic incidents to which he has been subjected. Ponyboy matures during the course of the novel, eventually realizing the importance of strength in the face of class bias, as well as gaining a new appreciation for his brothers' love and devotion to him. He also comes to detest the violence around him, coming to understand that while "Soda fought for fun, Steve for hatred, Darry for pride, and Two-Bit for conformity," he sees no purpose for it other than self-defense.



Greaser Main Characters

  • Ponyboy ""myspace.com/kali jones619"" "Pony" Michael Curtis: Ponyboy is the narrator of the novel and is 14 without a switchblade. He is the youngest of both the greasers and the three orphaned Curtis brothers. He describes himself as having "light brown, almost-red hair and greenish-gray eyes". After he and Johnny run away - because they are afraid of being jailed for killing Bob - Johnny has to cut Ponyboy's 'tuff' hair and bleach it blond with peroxide in order to disguise themselves. He gets good grades in school, but Darry says he doesn't use his head for common sense. He enjoys watching movies, drawing pictures, and reading books more than the other greasers and his brothers. It is also revealed that he is a good runner and is on the A-squad track team, in which he is the youngest. In the last chapter, it is revealed that he is writing the story and that we, as the reader, have just finished reading his theme essay that he wrote for his English teacher.
  • Johnny "Johnnycake" Cade: Johnny is the "pet" of the gang and is described that he "had been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers." Raised by an abusive father and an emotionally neglectful mother, he is a vulnerable 16-year-old in a group defined by toughness and a sense of invincibility. Several months prior to the main events of the book, he was beaten severely by several Socs including Bob, whose heavy rings scarred Johnny's face leaving him jumpier than he was before. This beating led Johnny to carry the switchblade he eventually used to kill Bob. He comes from an abusive home, and hangs out with the gang because they provide him with a surrogate family structure, though he feels that even the gang can't replace the love he wants from his parents. He looks up to Dally and considers him a hero. Johnny dies of injuries suffered when he and Ponyboy save children from a burning church. Previous to being injured he had contemplated suicide, but faced with death he repents. His dying words are "Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold."
  • Sodapop "Soda" Curtis: Sodapop is the middle brother of the Curtis family, and will be 17 a few weeks after the events in the novel. Soda dropped out of high school after the death of his parents, and works full-time as a mechanic at a DX gas station. Ponyboy describes him as "movie star handsome" and an undefeated fighter. Sodapop is carefree, with a happy-go-lucky personality. He also sticks up for Ponyboy when Darry is angry with him and is described as "the only person who can tease Darry and get away with it." Soda is upset when he learns that Sandy, his girlfriend he considered to be his one true love, sends back a letter he sent to her, unopened. He wanted to marry her anyway, but her parents disapproved and soon afterwards sent Sandy to live in Florida. She was also cheating on him with another guy, and was pregnant with him. (It was not Soda's baby). Though he lacks the 'book smarts' of either of his brothers, he is the glue that keeps the three together, because he understands Darry and Ponyboy better than they sometimes understand each other and can guide both to see the other's perspective in disputes.
  • Darrel "Darry" Curtis, Jr.: Darry Curtis is 20, the oldest of the three Curtis brothers. Highly intelligent and a top-class athlete, Darry gave up an athletic scholarship to act as guardian for his brothers after the tragic deaths of their parents in a car crash and he has never really recovered from his inability to go to college. But he takes his role seriously, holding two jobs (one of which is roofing houses, the other not identified in the book) to provide for Ponyboy and Sodapop. Darry sees that Ponyboy has the intelligence to move beyond the limited opportunities afforded to everyday "greasers". For this reason he is sometimes strict towards Ponyboy, burdening him with his own sacrificed dreams of success, initially much to Ponyboy's resentment. Ponyboy later comes to understand Darry's motivations and grows closer to him at the end of the book. Darrel is larger than the average greaser and is instrumental in winning the rumble with the socs.
  • Dallas "Dally" Winston: Dallas Winston is 17 years old. He is tougher, meaner and colder than the other greasers, who must exercise caution around him lest he lash out at a stray remark or joke. He spent three years on the streets of New York and was first arrested and jailed at the age of 10. Dally reacts violently to others, even his friends, and avoids showing emotion as much as possible. He does have a soft spot for Johnny, and is very protective of him. Dally is also extremely loyal to the group of friends; he takes the rap for Two-Bit when he vandalizes the school, he helps Ponyboy and Johnny when they need direction after the killing, and he tries to save Johnny when the roof of the burning church collapses on him. Dally has a record with the police "a mile long". When Johnny dies, Dally doesn't know how to deal with his death. He robs a grocery store and starts his final run from the law. The police chase him from the grocery store all the way to the park. The other members of the greasers arrive just as Dally raises his unloaded gun to the police. The police shoot down Dally with no hesitation; he dies before he hits the ground. Ponyboy states "Dally Winston wanted to die, and Dally Winston always got what he wanted."
  • Keith "Two-Bit" Mathews: Two-Bit is 18 and a half, known for his shoplifting skills. He gained his nickname, "Two-Bit," from his reputation for always having a comment about everything, always needing to "get his two bits' worth in." According to Ponyboy, Two-Bit had been known by his nickname for so long that even the teachers forgot what his real name was. He believes that "if you say everything is all right, it is." He often gets drunk, and carries around his treasured black-handled ten inch switchblade to awe and intimidate - but rarely to hurt - his enemies. He has gray eyes and long rusty-colored sideburns. He takes great pleasure from day-to-day activities, although they are not always constructive. A perfect example is when he gratuitously smashed his school's windows (an act for which Dallas gladly took responsibility for). In spite of this somewhat reckless streak, Two-Bit is the most easy-going and friendly of the group.
  • Steve Randle: Steve is 16, tall, lean, cocky and smart. He likes to comb his hair in thick, complicated swirls. He and Soda have been best friends since grade school. Steve's specialty is cars and he works part-time at the DX gas station with Soda. He also considers Pony a "tag-along," which Ponyboy seems to resent, but the two boys tolerate each other out of loyalty to Soda. He also once made fun of Darry by referring to him as "all brawn and no brain" and ended up with a punch to his jaw from Darry, and Darry never forgave him for saying that.

Soc Main Characters

  • The Socials (Socs): The Socs come from wealthy families and affect a haughty and proud demeanor, especially around the greasers whom they seek to mock. The Socs have lots of money and their parents spoil rather than discipline them. They live on the west side of town. Unlike the greasers, Soc girls and boys have a different sense of style. A typical female Soc wears a light-color blouse, a flimsy sweater, and any type of skirt reaching to the knees. Their hair is neatly done in a bob cut. A typical young adult male Soc wears a ski jacket, a madras T-Shirt, and slacks or khaki pants.
  • Sherri "Cherry" Valance is Bob's 16-year-old girlfriend. She is a cheerleader who attends Ponyboy's school. Cherry's real name is Sherri, but people call her Cherry because of her red hair. Ponyboy and Cherry have a great deal in common, such as watching sunsets, and Ponyboy feels comfortable talking to her. Cherry is both offended and intrigued by her encounter with Dally Winston at the drive-in. Cherry admires Dally's individuality and tells Ponyboy she could easily fall in love with Dally. In the days preceding the rumble, Cherry becomes a spy for the greasers; however, she is a pacifist. Although Cherry and Marcia are friends they are very different, and Ponyboy comented that once Cherry said something she stuck to it, but Marcia would pass up a free coke.
  • Marcia is Cherry's friend and Randy's girlfriend. Marcia is fairly pretty, with her short, dark hair. She is a Soc who befriends Two-Bit at the drive-in. Marcia and Two-Bit share a quirky sense of humour.
  • Randy Adderson is Marcia's boyfriend and Bob's best friend. Randy is a handsome Soc who eventually sees the futility of fighting, especially after the death of Bob. Along with Cherry, Randy humanizes the greasers by showing that some of them have redeeming qualities. Randy helps Ponyboy realize that Socs are as susceptible to pain, as anyone else is. Randy makes peace with Ponyboy after he discovered that fighting was useless, and he refuses to fight in the Soc-greaser rumble. He is really the only "peaceful" member of either gang, though Ponyboy also comes to renounce violence by the end of the novel.
  • Robert "Bob" Sheldon is the Soc who beats up Johnny before the beginning of the story's main events, and also the one who tried to drown Ponyboy in the fountain. He is a handsome black-haired boy with dark eyes, and is Cherry's boyfriend as well as Randy's best friend. According to Cherry, Bob is sweet and friendly when he is sober, but loses control when he is drunk. Bob's parents refuse to discipline him or set limits for his behavior. He constantly 'acts out', waiting for his parents to disapprove; when they ignore him or blame themselves, his behavior worsens. In the fatal incident, he is the indisputable instigator and Johnny kills him in clear-cut self-defense.

Supporting Characters

  • Sandy is Sodapop's girlfriend who he thinks he is going to marry. In the middle of the book Sandy moves to Florida to stay with her grandmother. She had two options, get married to a 17 year old boy or move to Florida. Soda was willing to marry her so she would stay.
  • Tim Shepard runs another local gang, and is thought to be good friends with Dallas. Dally slashed his tires at the Nightly Double, and they have a fight with the socs. He also appears at the final rumble, where he tells everyone his brother Curly is in the reformatory. His age is probably about eighteen.
  • Other socs help out Bob in hurting Johnny and Ponyboy and also appear in the rumble at the end.

Themes

  • Nothing Gold Can Stay: The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel, and one of the major themes involves the difficulty of staying "gold'--that is, hanging onto the wonder and innocence of childhood. The phrase "Nothing gold can stay" comes from the Robert Frost poem of the same name; during the course of the novel, Ponyboy recites the poem to Johnny after watching a beautiful (but fleeting) sunrise. In it, Frost expresses the idea that things which are precious and beautiful are also fleeting. Later, a dying Johnny urges Ponyboy to "stay gold"; whether Ponyboy will be able to do this amidst tragedy and hardship is one of the major questions of the book.

References

  1. ^ Hinton, S. E. (2003) [1967]. "speaking with S. E. Hinton...". The Outsiders. Speak/Penguin Putnam. p. p. 182. ISBN 0-14-038572-X. 
  2. ^ "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000", American Library Association. Retrieved September 28, 2006.
  3. ^ "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999", American Library Association. Retrieved 03-27-2007.

External links