The Outsiders | Teen Ink

The Outsiders

May 26, 2008
By Anonymous

The importance and need for loyalty and human connection is conveyed through the trials and tribulations of Ponyboy, the main character of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, who finds that without these necessities, one can't live a stable life. Ponyboy realizes that without his brothers and his friends, a cold, lonesome world would take him in. He realizes that the same need has to be filled in other people, and that different people have different ways of showing their affection.

Early in the novel, Ponyboy realizes how bad it could be without family. While walking home from a drive in movie with his best friend Johnny, they become seduced by the starry night sky, and doze off in a vacant lot. Ponyboy, who had lost track of time and stayed out way past his curfew, made his way home to await the onslaught of his older brother, Darry, who had to act as his father after the death of their parents. Upon entering his house, Ponyboy endured a barrage of yelling from his makeshift father, followed by a slap on the face. Ponyboy had never been hit before. His emotions started at his toes and slowly made their way up to his head. He ran away. This had hurt him; it had taken away his family. He felt so alone, alone and cold in a dark world. And, in his loneliness, he loses his sense, and causes one of the biggest events of his life. His guard was down. While sitting on a park bench with Johnny, a rival gang, the Socs, attempted to “jump” them. One of the Socs was killed in self-defense. Ponyboy had experienced the worst thing that could happen on the unforgiving streets.

The murder leaves the duo in a bad situation. While Johnny, the one who did the deed, contemplates the magnitude of the event, Ponyboy makes a promise to himself to stick with Johnny to the bitter end. Johnny had in effect comforted him when he had ran from his brothers, and Ponyboy had to return the favor. He realizes that Johnny alone, a boy who had been abused by his family and had accepted the gang as brothers, would be vulnerable, extremely vulnerable since he would be wanted for murder. The duo borrows supplies and advice from a trusted gang member, Dally, and head off for a country town. They stick together through dyeing and cutting their hair, living in an abandoned church, and actually saving children trapped in the same church set ablaze by their improperly disposed cigarettes. Through the duos exploits, Ponyboy realizes that others have the same need for connection as himself.

Later in the novel, after Ponyboy has returned to his life, he becomes extremely depressed from the fact that Johnny had died from injury from the fire, and subsequently comes to terms with it and reconnects with his brothers. Ponyboy had been living in denial since his return. He had started to have night terrors and one night went into a coma. His grades at school had previously been perfect, and now they started to slip. Darry was concerned and asked Ponyboy. The issue quickly became an argument, and Ponyboy's other brother, Sodapop, had seen too much of these quarrels and couldn't take it any more. He ran. Pony and Darry chased after him. Ponyboy, a track runner, lead the chase block after block. When they do catch up, the three boys, as a family, reunite. Darry promises to go easy on Pony and explain he's just trying to express his concern for Pony's welfare, and that he loves him very much. Ponyboy realizes that Darry just has a different way of expressing his love.

Ponyboy shows us through these events that we all need human compassion and love; he also shows that you should recognize other people's need for connection, and that people express their loyalty and love in different ways. It is this very innate knowledge, that makes us human.

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This article has 1 comment.

supdawg said...
on Nov. 19 2010 at 8:09 am
Spoiler alerts would be nice