The Outsiders

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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I. Type of Story The book The Outsiders was a story that is a very realistic book of something that could have happened, but I doubt that it did. All of the things that happened in the story took place in a time back before I was born, where everyone had cars that are classics now. All of the fighting and other love and strange happenings in the story seem like you are taken back to a real time, where you can interact with everyone including all of the gangs, street racing, gunshots in the street, old fashioned stores, and all of the other things that I was never able to experience. All of these things really deliver you an authentic experience of going to this time and reliving all kinds of crazy stuff. Some things that prove this is when there is the big fight in the street towards the beginning where Ponyboy is getting beaten up by the Socs and then a bunch of his gang appear to help him out.

This is something that could even happen to this day. It is easy to imagine being out driving by the ghetto and then a bunch of kids start jumping another kid, and a few moments later a bunch of his friends show up to save the day for him. Another part is when Ponyboy and Dally are hiding out from the Socs in the abandoned church while they read stories out loud to each other. This is another thing that they may just enjoy. Some people will hide that side of them to act like that tough guy that everybody wants to know, but at this point it is just the two of them so they can come out and show each other what they like to do, and they both loved reading or hearing stories.

II. Conflicts Of course, just like any story, "The Outsiders" had many conflicts that the main character Ponyboy had to overcome and defeat to get to his ultimate goal. In every novel there are just tons of conflicts so it is hard to choose one to analyze, but in the end it comes down to one specific thing, what exactly was he thinking when he made that choice or when he made a plan to seize an opportunity and take control of his life even more. I think that one major conflict was when the Socs surrounded Ponyboy and one of his buddies, Johnny, and they dunked his head in a fountain until he passed out on page fifty-four to fifty-five. The book says, "We backed against the fountain and the Socs surrounded us"¦'Give the kid a bath David'. I ducked and tried to run for it, but the Soc caught my arm and twisted it behind my back, and shoved my face into the fountain. I fought, but the hand at the back of my neck was strong and I had to hold my breath. I'm dying, I thought, and wondered what was happening to Johnny. I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I fought again desperately but only sucked in water. I'm drowning, I thought, they've gone too far"¦A red haze filled my mind and I slowly relaxed." This is a physical conflict where the Socs almost go too far and push Ponyboy nearly to the point of drowning. This is a very hard conflict because when you go to far with this type of thing you will simply die; no crying, weeping, or being sad, just death. It's too bad that they were outnumbered there because I believe that everyone should have a fair fight if you really want to prove yourself, but I guess that all of that stuff about being a man is off when you are drunk out of your mind and have nothing better to do than mess with some stupid punk Greasers that have been trying to hook up with their chicks. Another conflict is an emotional one dealing with his parents in one of his dreams. It says, "I had a nightmare the night of Mom and Dad's funeral. I'd had nightmares and wild dreams every once in a while, but nothing like this one. I woke up screaming bloody murder. And I never could remember what it was that had scared me. It scared Sodapop and Darry almost as bad as it scared me; for night after night, for weeks on end, I would dream this dream and wake up in a cold sweat or screaming." (p. 110). I have never had a dream where you wake up screaming, but as you see it in movies you know how horrible that seems and hope that never happens to you. Unlike the physical conflicts, with this type you don't die, but some people may feel like death is the only other way to get rid of all of this stuff because it is just too overwhelming for their mind and soul to handle. On the other hand, waking up in a cold sweat has probably happened to a lot of people, but to have that happening week after week would be something horrible. It would be like you getting a circumsition every single week, and every time it would grow back, and then you HAD to have it cut off again. No choice, none of your conscious decisions, but just a horrific pain that is impossible to get rid of.

III. Point of View This whole story was told from the first person perspective. Throughout the whole story it is told from the eyes of Ponyboy, and is always using the words "I", "we", and "us". Some parts are where it says, "That was the first time I realized the extent of Johnny's hero-worship for Dally Winston" (p. 76). This part has the word "˜I', which definitively shows that it is told in the first person perspective. Yet another time it show is where it says, "Sodapop looked down at me with mock superiority, but Darry went on"¦" (p. 135). The part of this sentence that shows that it is a told by one person is the word "me". If it wasn't in the first person it wouldn't be referring to anyone in the story as "˜me'. The story has a lot of great parts because of this. Some of the advantages of having a story in the first person are that there is a lot of mystery. Since it is told by one person and one person only you only know what that person knows at the time that that person knows that. This makes it keep the reader guessing, and therefore you don't have all of things that will ruin a surprise ending, but there still may be the foreshadowing which will get the reader thinking and working out all of the different things that may end the story when "BANG" a completely different thing happens that totally suprises you. Most people love that in a story because it is just one of those things that makes you want to keep on reading, hungry for that extra piece of meat in that big sandwich of a story.

IV. Summary Ponyboy is a "greaser," a member of a group of teens who wear their hair long and greasy and are at odds with the rich-kid punks known as the "Socs". One day, as Ponyboy is walking home from a movie, he is jumped and beaten by a gang of Socs. At the last minute, his gang of greasers, which include his brothers Darry and Sodapop, who raise Ponyboy now that their parents are dead, Dally Winston, Johnny, and Two-Bit appear on the scene to save him. The next night, Ponyboy and Johnny go to a movie with Dally. They sit behind a pair of attractive Soc girls, whom Dally hits on obnoxiously. After Johnny tells him to stop, Johnny and Ponyboy sit with the girls, Cherry and Marcia, and Ponyboy and Cherry discover that they have a great deal in common. Two-Bit appears, and the three greasers walk the Soc girls back to Two-Bit's house so that he can drive them home. On the way, however, they run into Bob and Randy, the girls' drunken boyfriends, and the girls agree to leave with them in order to prevent a fight between the Socs and the greasers.

Ponyboy is very late getting home, and his brother Darry is furious with him. Sick of his brother, Ponyboy yells at him, and in a fight that follows, Darry slaps Ponyboy across the face. Determined to run away, Ponyboy flees out the door, finds Johnny, and heads for the park. Here, however, the two young greasers again encounter Bob and Randy, with a large group of their Soc friends. One of the Socs holds Ponyboy's head under the frigid water of the fountain, and Ponyboy blacks out. When he comes to, he is lying on the ground next to Johnny. The bloody corpse of Bob is next to them. To save Ponyboy, Johnny has killed Bob.

Desperate and terrified, the two greasers hurry to find Dally Winston, whom they think might be able to help them. Dally gives them a gun and some money and tells them to go to an abandoned church near in a nearby town, where they hide out for a week. They cut their hair and do things to pass the time that they both enjoy such as reading and talking about poetry. After a week, Dally comes to check on them and says that since Bob's death, relations between the greasers and the Socs are at their worst ever. A giant rumble is to be held the next night to settle matters once and for all. He says that Cherry, who feels responsible for the whole catastrophe, has been acting as a spy for the greasers. Johnny shocks Dally by declaring his intention to go back to Tulsa and turn himself in. Dally drives them back, but as they leave, they notice that the church has caught fire--with a group of picnicking schoolchildren inside. Ponyboy and Johnny rush into the inferno to save the children and then just as they get the last child through the window, the roof caves in, and Ponyboy again blacks out.

This time, he comes to in an ambulance. At the hospital, he is diagnosed with only minor burns and bruises; Dally is also not badly hurt, but Johnny's back was broken when the roof fell and he is now in critical condition. Darry and Sodapop come to get Ponyboy, and when he sees Darry's tears, Ponyboy at last realizes that his brother loves him. The following morning, all the papers proclaim that Ponyboy and Johnny are heroes; but because of the incident, Ponyboy will have to attend a hearing where a judge will decide whether to let him stay with Darry or send him to a boys' home.

Ponyboy and Two-Bit go to get a Coke and bump into Randy. Randy tells Ponyboy that he is sick of all the fighting, and that he does not plan to go to the fight that night. Dally feels better, and asks for Two-Bit's black-handled switchblade. On the way home, Two-Bit and Ponyboy see Cherry. She refuses to visit Johnny because he killed Bob, and Ponyboy calls her a traitor.

At the rumble, the greasers kick the crap out of the Socs. Ponyboy and dally arrive just as they realize that Johnny is dieing. As he dies, Dally loses control of himself and runs from the room in a frenzy. Ponyboy stumbles home late that night, feeling dazed and disoriented, and tells the others of Johnny's death. Dally then calls to say that he has robbed a grocery story and is now being hunted by the cops. The greasers hurry to find him, but they are too late. Dally is gunned down just as they arrive. After seeing this horrible thing, Ponyboy passes out yet again.

When he comes to this time, he is in bed at home. He has had a concussion from a kick he sustained at the rumble, and been delirious in bed for several days. When he is well he attends the hearing where he is acquitted from any involvement in Bob's death and allowed to remain at home with Darry. For a time, Ponyboy is empty inside. His grades slip, and he resumes hostility toward Darry. At last, however, Sodapop blows up at them, tearfully pleading with them not to fight, saying that his he feels as though he is being torn in half by their conflict. Ponyboy agrees not to fight with Darry anymore. For the first time, he is able to remember Dally and Johnny's deaths without pain or denial. He decides to tell their story, and begins writing a story for class.

V. Figurative Language There are tons of examples of figurative language in the story "The Outsiders", but explaining just half could take all day. All of them bring more exclamation points into the story without you seeing them, and they all have effects upon the mind that make you see images, sensations, smells, or anything else more vividly, clearly, or definitely. The first is a simile on page twenty-six that says, "You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do. When you're a gang, you stick up for the members. If you don't stick up for them, stick together, make like brothers, it isn't a gang anymore." This was when they were in the movies hitting on the good looking and classy Soc girls and they finally got to sit down with them. At that point they are explaining how since they are all friends they all really feel like they have to be as loyal as they can to their friends, and never dispel their trust no matter what may come between them. This simile is comparing their gang sticking together and brothers sticking together. A simile really helps you understand stories better because it is usually relating what is being talked about to something that can easily be running through your mind every day. With two brothers, I know that a brother is for life, you can't shun them because no matter what, you will sooner or later end up seeing them again and again at family get togethers or you might just live together. Especially in young childhood, you gain a strong bond with those that you spend the most time with, and being with a brother makes a bond that sticks for the rest of life and barely ever does that bond fall apart. It really helps you realize how loyal they all were to each other, easily dependable to fight with their lives if the need arose. The second literary device that I will talk about is an example of imagery on page 32. It says, "Suddenly he stopped and examined [the jacket] more carefully. There was a stain the color of rust across the collar. He looked at the ground. There were some more stains on the grass. He looked up and across the field with a stricken expression on his face. I think we all heard the low moan and saw the dark motionless hump on the other side of the lot at the same time. Soda reached him first. Johnny was lying face down on the ground. Soda turned him over gently, and I nearly got sick. Someone had beaten him badly." This was after they were coming home from the movies and found Johnny all beaten and bruised up. The imagery helps you to understand the events as they come to them while they start to figure it out. At first, they find Johnny's coat, then they discover that there's some strange coloring on the jacket and they start to suspect that Johnny may have gotten beat up. As they keep walking across the grass, more small stains of "˜rust' litter the landscape in a trail, all leading in the same direction. Then, they finally gaze across the landscape and as Ponyboy sees a sudden fear rushing through the eyes of Sodapop and immediately Ponyboy stares in that direction and they both immediately dash over to Johnny's gashed body, lying face down, left for dead. As Soda turned him over, you can then imagine the look of a person about to hurl come over Ponyboy as he sees one of his best friends who was probably the most innocent of the bunch, not looking for a fight but wouldn't shy away. This imagery helps you understand how Johnny had been beaten almost to death; giving you a lot of context to let you know how the scenery played in giving you their location, but leaving you room to use your imagination and leave your mind to depict the picture of what Johnny looked like to every person, beaten to the extent that you want that would just make you sick and sympathize for the gloomy fate of one of their friends.