Main Discoveries In The Outsiders Novel
In the novel The Outsiders by SE. Hinton, Ponyboy discovers that Greasers and Socs are not as stereotypical as the Greasers think, and that each are unique people with varied interests. The heroes’ journey is a framework upon which all stories dating back to Greek mythology follow, and the main character(s) embark upon. This journey is six stages: Call to Action, Crossing the Threshold, The Trial, Descent into Darkness, Reward/ Transformation and Return Home. Ponyboy Curtis is a 14 year old male Greaser who has two brothers: Darry and Sodapop. He is close friends with Johnny Cade, Dally Winston and Two-Bit. The three stages that changed Ponyboy forever on this heroic journey are: The descent into darkness, crossing the threshold and The Trials.
Ponyboy has some key decisions to make upon crossing the threshold. Darry has just hit Ponyboy upside the head and Ponyboy runs away to the park. Prior to this, Ponyboy has just met Cherry and Marcia at the drive-in, and has just dropped them off at their houses. A soc approaches Ponyboy and causes conflict while in the park by saying “You could use a bath greaser. And we’ve got all night to do it, Give the kid a bath David.” (51). There are two kinds of socs: those like Cherry and Marcia, who are nice, friendly and calm, and those who are aggressive, like Bob and David, who are just looking to pick a fight with the greasers. Society should therefore not narrowly classify everybody in just two types, as everybody is different. When asked if Johnny killed the soc he replied ,“Yeah.” His voice quavered slightly. “I had to. They were drowning you Pony. They might have killed you. And they had a blade… they were gonna beat me up…” (52) The aggressive socs pose a legitimate threat to Ponyboy and Johnny, therefore Johnny had to kill Bob to allow Ponyboy to survive. Furthermore this proves the tight knit relationship between Johnny and Pony as Johnny is willing to risk getting locked up for life to save Ponyboy. Ponyboy knows that after this stage there is no turning back as they have to hide to avoid getting caught doing so however will be a difficult task.
Along the way of Ponyboy’s life changing journey, he faces many challenges to receive his reward/ transformation. The next conquest on their journey is getting to Jay’s Mountain. All they have with them is a pistol that Dally gave them, and a roll of twenty dollar bills, both of which were obtained from Dally. Upon arriving on the mountain, they go to an abandoned church to avoid the authorities. However, Johnny soon realizes that their faces will be plastered all over media: newspapers, billboards, buses etc.. Since this would be devastating to Ponyboy and Johnny’s criminal record, Johnny decides “We’re gonna cut our hair and you’re gonna bleach yours.” (63) For a greaser, hairstyle and/or look is a defining physical quality. Ponyboy doesn’t change as a person just because his visual appearance is different. This shows that society should base a person’s character on their insides, and not the outsides, or what social circle they belong to. A small group of kids are trapped inside the church, where Ponyboy and Johnny have accidentally left smoldering cigarette, causing it to go up in flames. Ponyboy and Johnny then decide that, although the risk of injury may be high, they need to try to save them. ”I’ll get them. You kids stay out!.” (81) This is yet another quality that is not typically found in Greaser, as Greasers are profiled to be juvenile delinquents who do not want to better themselves and don’t give a care about others. Ponyboy has shown thru this stage that he does not fit the traditional description of greasers, because he is willing to risk his life for other people. As a result of his journey, Ponyboy is enlightened that his social differences do not define him as a person.
Ponyboys reward in transformation comes into form of mental enlightenment. Ponyboy’s friend Johnny has just died, and Dally has been shot by the police and is dead as well. All the socs have surprisingly come to Pony’s aid , by testifying that Bob’s murder was self-defense. Pony was surprised that “All the socs told the same story and stuck mainly to the truth.” (145) In the past it had been inferred that all socs would jump on any opportunity that they had to stain a greasers criminal record. This shows that at least some socs have compassion and empathy towards all others including greasers. Prior to this Johnny’s final goodbye to Ponyboy was to “stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold…” The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died. (130) Staying gold refers to Ponyboy’s decision to abstain from fights and other criminal activity, and to focus on school. Ponyboy is honoring Johnny’s wishes by not attempting to start a fight with a soc, but to attempt to put their differences behind them. Over the course of Ponyboy’s journey, Ponyboy has grown and developed as a character.
Ponyboy has gone from a completely negative opinion of all socs, to a neutral opinion on most, excluding violent socs such as Bob, who sought solely to cause trouble. After Ponyboy’s heroic journey, he is now somewhere in between a greaser and a soc, with a brighter future ahead of him. Those who follow Ponyboy’s journey can learn that they shouldn’t have stereotypical views of different groups, as the people themselves define who they are. And, in addition, no matter what physical difference that a person may possess, (disability, race, looks etc.) that person should be defined on solely on their character and personality traits. The novel does a great job spreading this empowering message through storytelling that leaves a strong subliminal impression both during and after reading, thus leaving the reader with some questions to evaluate on how they treat others and how society views various minority points of view.
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