The Outsiders: Character Analysis of Ponyboy Curtis
Can there ever be a balance between conformity and individuality? Can a society ever be perfect in which all minorities get along? In a society, where greasers and socs live that is not possible. Ponyboy, the youngest of the Curtis brothers, has a hard time coping up with social stress. In his neighborhood, Socs will always be at the top with lots of money, and Greasers will always be at the bottom with little money. No matter what happens, this will always be the case; and Ponyboy is having a hard time to accept that. Ponyboy is part of a gang; the Greasers. It includes him, Sodapop, Darry, two-bit Mathews, Dally, Johnny, and Steve Randle. Ponyboy’s two older brothers are Sodapop and Darry. One of the conflicts with Ponyboy is that he thinks Darry will never love him. Darry is always giving Ponyboy a hard time whether it is school or sports. He was never pleased. “Me and Darry just didn’t dig each other. I never could please him. He would have hollered at me for carrying a blade if I had carried one. If I brought home B’s, he wanted A’s, and if I got A’s, he wanted to make sure they stayed A’s. If I was playing football, I should be studying inside, and if I was reading, I should be out playing football. He never hollered at Sodapop-not even when Soda dropped out of school or got tickets for speeding. He just hollered at me”. Ponyboy also tries to display a hidden message throughout the novel by showing that even though the social classes of greaser and socs are very different, there are similarities that both social groups undergo in their day-to-day lives. “It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset”. One main idea in this story is that there should be a line between individuality and conformity as characters such as Ponyboy should stay true to themselves so that they don’t end up like Dally; who became a hood and a greaser by following people who were greasers around him. Characters like Johnny and Ponyboy should keep a special identity, which makes them unique from the rest. They shouldn’t always follow what others are doing because sometimes it might be wrong. Ponyboy and Cherry are the outsiders from their groups and society; while Dally and Tim Shepard are true stereotype Greasers and will be hoods for the rest of their lives.
There should be a line between individuality and conformity as characters such as Ponyboy should stay true to themselves so that they don’t end up like Dally; who became a hood and a greaser by following people who were greasers around him. Dally became a criminal at the age of ten because he started to follow the bad ways of the other people he was surrounded by. They set a bad example for him and he started to follow their ways and become like them. “Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us tougher, colder, meaner.” This quote shows that Dally would continue to pursue his bad ways throughout the rest of his life just because of the violence he grew up around. At this point, Dally should have been able to keep his individuality and not follow his group rules. Ponyboy should preserve his individuality and do what he thinks is right or wrong, not what others think is best. “The term also applies to human behavior, and it usually describes large numbers of people acting the same way at the same time. It often has a connotation of irrationality, as people’s actions are driven by emotion rather than by thinking through a situation.” Ponyboy should not follow herd behavior of others, but rather think logically of what to do. People should stay true to themselves while also being law-abiding and loyal to their rules at the same time.
Characters like Johnny and Ponyboy should keep a special identity, which makes them unique from the rest. They shouldn’t always follow what others are doing because sometimes it might be wrong. At the start of the novel, Ponyboy is a dedicated greaser even though he knows that certain aspects of his personality makes him different from the rest of the gang. For example, he likes to read books in his gang and no one else seems to have an interest. ” Soda, who is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, never cracks a book at all, and my oldest brother, Darrel, who we call Darry, works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture, so I’m not like them.”The gang provides Ponyboy with a sense of safety showing like they always got is back. For example, when Ponyboy was jumped at the beginning of the book, the gang came to save. So Ponyboy wants to stick to his gang’s code of conduct to show his loyalty. However, this limits Ponyboy from expressing who he is as an individual. But the events surrounding Bob’s death cause Ponyboy to think more deeply about expressing who he really is, and his conversations with Johnny, Cherry, and Randy lead him to reflect on whether to show who he truly is as an individual. He begins to question and compare the reasons for conflict throughout the everyday lives of socs and greasers, and he thinks hard about the decision to participate in the rumble. Ponyboy’s willingness to interact with Socs signals the development of him progressing to a goal. A goal to show the real person who he is. Over time, he begins to question the ways of Greaser society and life. In a similar story “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, the main character Andy starts to wonder if he was described as Andy, or just another Royal. At the end of the story, he tries to take off his Royal’s jacket to show that he is true to himself and not some other Royal. “If he died, he was Andy. He was not a Royal. He was simply Andy, and he was dead. Had the Guardian who knifed him ever once known that he was Andy? Had they stabbed him, Andy, or stabbed only the jacket and the title? What good was the title if you were dying?”. This quote shows that Andy was wondering if he was just a Royal or Andy. It shows him wondering if he was an individual or just another Royal. A special identity is important to have because it expresses who you truly are.
Ponyboy and Cherry are the outsiders from their groups and society; while Dally and Tim Shepard are true stereotype Greasers and will be hoods for the rest of their lives. Cherry and Ponyboy are outsiders from their groups because they don’t follow the typical stereotype ways of their groups. Both of them have some individual traits that make them who they are. “It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset”. Cherry Valance’s main conflict throughout the story is that if she is a soc or not. Cherry has always been apart of the soc group for years however she has been spying on them for the Greasers. She is an outsider of society because she is not apart of any group at all. “You’re a traitor to your own kind and not loyal to us.” Ponyboy is an outsider because he is very different from his own group. He is smart unlike most of the greasers who are hoods. He likes books and studying, that no Greasers digs. “The term also applies to human behavior, and it usually describes large numbers of people acting the same way at the same time. It often has a connotation of irrationality, as people’s actions are driven by emotion rather than by thinking through a situation.”He is not stereotypical, and express some of his individuality. He doesn’t follow everyone like Herd Behavior and thinks logically. He is not like Dally who is the perfect example of a greaser or hood. Dally gave his life as an example to explain this to Ponyboy. Be true to yourself.
Ponyboy, Cherry and other characters in the novel have tried to express their individuality throughout their stories. They have set a line between Individuality and conformity on which to follow at certain times. They are outsiders to society as they are nothing like their social classes. The Characters experiences teach the readers to be true to themselves. The author might want to teach the readers that even though things can look different, they are very much the same indeed. In a way, they can say looks are deceiving.
Comparing The Book The Outsiders
The characteristics of an outsider can be limitless. Both Alan Bennett and Muriel Spark explore the concept of the outsider in The History Boys and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Throughout the play and novel, different characters, like Hector, Miss Jean Brodie, Posner, Mary, could be perceived as an outsider by the audience or reader. For example, Hector and Miss Jean Brodie could be perceived as an outsider due to their openness of their unique style of teaching and almost choosing to be an outsider so they can elevate their teaching to be seen as superior to their students. Posner and Mary could be considered the outsiders because even though they are part of the small group that their teachers have made, they are still the outsiders due to the treatment from their teacher and fellow classmates.
Within The History Boys there are more outsiders compared to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The two more clear outsiders in both are Hector and Miss Brodie, who share a lot of similarities. One being their different approach to teaching, which at the time they were both set, could’ve caused a bit of controversy with the audience/reader. From the start of The History Boys it’s clear to the audience that Hector doesn’t like exams or A-Levels, he describes them as ‘the enemy of education’ and how they’re ‘your cheats VISA… the footing of your CV’. This shows that Hector believes that exams and A-Levels are a way for young adults to ‘cheat’ to get a job by showing off qualifications. His use of alliteration, ‘enemy of education’ could show that there is something theatrical about Hector and how he always wants to impress others with his wide-spread knowledge, which he tries to implant in the boys’ minds. This could place him apart from other teachers because this further confirms that he doesn’t take the traditional education system seriously.
The use of Hectors pompous language, such as ‘Now fades the thunder of the youth of England clearing summers obligatory hurdles. Felicitations to you all’ pokes fun at other teachers, like Irwin, the Headmaster and Mrs. Lintott, who take A-Levels seriously, which puts him aside from other teachers. The word ‘Felicitations’ shows Hector using archaic language which adds to his charismatic and theatrical character and shows the reader that he uses his ‘bank of literature’ regularly which isn’t normal for a traditional teacher to do. His ‘bank of literature’ is seen again when his actions against the boys are exposed and the Headmaster, being wary about what the school will be labelled as if the word got out that a teacher had groomed his students, urged for Hectors early retirement. Yet when questioned why he did it, he excused his actions by saying ‘it was a laying-on of hands’ showing that he doesn’t understand what he has done wrong. With this and his other means of being a teacher that doesn’t conform to the norms of a traditional school, causes tension between him and the Headmaster.
The Headmaster, in my opinion, is particularly harsh towards Hector because, to a modern audience, one might say that Hector is teaching his class that there is more to life than A-Levels. But an audience at the time may agree with the Headmaster in trying to condemn Hectors way of teaching. With the Headmaster trying to contain and condemn Hector’s teaching and making him share lessons with Irwin, it makes Hector the clear outsider and could make the audience feel sympathetic towards Hector. The Headmaster, in act one, talks to Hector and as he tries to explain his actions on the infamous motorbike rides where he tries to justify his disturbing actions with literature where The Headmaster says ‘Fuck the Renaissance. And fuck literature… this is a school and it isn’t normal.’ (PAGE 53) while the Headmasters tone is harsh and usually a school should welcome a differ in traditional teaching with curiosity, but as the scene as a whole shows Hectors blindness to see what he’s done wrong evaporates any sort of sympathy that the audience may have for Hector. The motorbike rides symbolises how Hector has gained the trust of his students to them take that for granted, but what shocks the audience is how the boys don’t protest to it and they all accept the offer of a ride home that Hector offers them, however he doesn’t ask Posner. On page 17, Hectors asks who’s going home but there aren’t any offers, seeing his opportunity Posner says ‘I’ll come sir’ but Hector denies his request by saying ‘no, no,. Never mind’ This could prove that Posner is the outsider student within the group as Hector doesn’t turn down the opportunity to take the others home, but later the audience learns that Hector is very weary of Posner, maybe because he sees a lot of himself in Posner, for example when they are talking about the lonely soldier. ‘I’m Jewish, I’m small, I’m a homosexual, and I live in Sheffield. I’m fucked’
Within his classmates, Posner is a visible outsider within Hectors class, and the play as a whole. Bennett created Posner as homosexual, something that, at the time the play was set, wasn’t something that was talked about let alone accepted across the nation. From the start of act one, Posner displays his femininity when Hector and the boys are playing out a French brothel scene and Posner states that he is ‘la femme de chambre’ meaning he is the maid. With this early exposure to Posner acting as a female character could foreshadow that in the future he’s so lonely he poses ‘on the internet … none in his right name or even gender’ and could hint towards him always being unhappy with his identity. Along with posing as both female and male on the internet he describes himself as ‘fucked’ when listing how he is a ‘Jew small … homosexual’ and lives in Sheffield, could be the start of his self-criticism journey. At the end of the play, Posner ‘has long since stopped asking himself what went wrong’, which could resemble Hectors questioning himself to what made him ‘piss my life away in this god-foresakin place. There’s nothing left of me’ Posner use of alliteration, ‘since stopped. What went wrong’ stays in the audiences’ minds after the play and shows just how lonely Posner is. This resembles Hector because he questions what his life has come to and shows that him and Posner have the same mindset, but Posner is ahead of Hector as he has ‘stopped asking himself what went wrong’. This leaves the audience feeling sympathy for both characters, especially Posner, because they were two outsiders in the play and caused them to really question their lives.
The Outsiders’ Still Matters 50 Years Later
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, a novel which tells the story of the conflict between two rival gangs, Greasers and Socs, captures the voice of ponyboy and his friends to talk about stereotype threats. In Ponyboy’s role as the narrator and main character in the story, he talks about the expectations of Greasers being violent delinquents, which sways his internal expectations, giving him labels he thinks he has to live by. Ponyboy’s love for literary and academic accomplishments sets him apart from the rest of his gang, but they are still like family to him. Johnny, the “pet” of the Greasers, is a shy sixteen-year-old in a group known for being tough and having a sense of invincibility. Dallas Winston, the toughest hood in the Greasers, takes pride in his criminal record, yet works the hardest. Although Greasers don’t have the same open doors as Socs, Ponyboy soon learns that they too face internal and external expectation. Stereotype threats challenged Greasers choices, making them prone to the conformity of being a violent Greaser.
Johnny was prone to the conformity of being a violent greaser, challenging his decisions, affecting his external and internal expectations. In the article, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, by Robert Frost, it stated how gold things don’t stay forever, which shows that precious things, like youth, don’t last forever. This means that all good things come to an end, just like Johnny’s childhood and innocence when he killed Bob. This means that after he saved the children from the burning church and the headline in the newspaper “Delinquents turn hero”, this showed that Greasers aren’t as violent as Socs portrayed them to be.”It seems like there’s gotta be someplace without Greasers or Socs”. After the incident with the Socs, Johnny wishes how there’s a place with no rival gangs. This means that Johnny wants to push past all the social divisions between the groups and not have to worry about being attacked all the time. This matters because this shows exactly how much the constant threats from Socs influences him, desperately wanting him to find a world without class division, so he can feel peace. Although Johnny faced challenges and pushed through most of them, he still was hurt within his external expectation of being a violent Greaser.
Some people challenge their decisions when they are given expectations on how to act, but others conform to the expectation given by others, like Dallas Winston. In the Outsiders, “Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us tougher, colder, meaner”, which shows that Dally had a reputation in New York. This means that Dally conforms to his role as a Greaser because he is an actual hood, coming from having a reputation in New York. This matters because even if Dally wanted to switch his life into being better, he couldn’t because of the stereotypical expectations of Greasers. “They spoiled him rotten. I mean, most parents would be proud of a kid like that— good-lookin ‘ and smart and everything, but they gave in to him all the time.” This shows that Dally was spoiled, but he had a reputation of being a delinquent in New York before he met the rest of the Greaser gang. This means that Dally’s parents wanted Dally to change into a person with a better lifestyle, but it was too late, so they gave up on him. This matters because people sometimes make mistakes they wouldn’t have done if they didn’t have an expectation of what to be, like stereotypes affecting Greasers. In conclusion, these examples show a reason for stereotypes because when people view these personalities, it gives them an expectation to follow up on, rather than be themselves.
Greasers and Socs have different lifestyles, yet still have many things in common with each other, such as being prone to stereotype threats, challenging their decisions. “I don ‘t really think a beer blast on the river bottom is super-cool, but I ‘ll rave about one to a girl-friend just to be saying something’, to show that Cherry says things she doesn’t mean. This means that Cherry tries to fit in by acting fake and cool, not her true self. This matters because Cherry feels to fulfill the needs of belonging by doing something she doesn’t really mean to do, but because of stereotype threats, she is forced to. In the article, “Herd Behavior” by CommonLit, “Psychologists posit that a “group mind” can overtake a mob and embolden people to act in ways they would not individually, increasing the likelihood that situations become violent.” to show that Cherry acts in ways she would not if she was thinking individually. This means that Cherry’s external expectation of being sophisticated and cool can affect how she feels internally. This matters because Cherry facing the stereotypes of being a perfect Soc affected her inner thoughts of needing to be like every other Soc to fit in and not feel left out. Cherry was affected by societal expectations, making her think she had to conform to be like everyone else.
Stereotypes can affect the internal and external expectations of a person, especially when they are being pressured, being a part of a rival gang. Socs had expectations of wearing expensive clothes and always being sophisticated, but also cool and popular. Greasers were expected to be delinquents with raggedy and worn down clothes, rather than seen as individuals. This affected both Greaser and Socs making them think they had to live up to that expectation, and always fit in with the crowd, rather than be what they wanted to. Although stereotypes made Socs and Greasers conform to their expectations, they still found a way to prove and realize that they are individuals with their own lifestyles and choices.
Heroism in the Book The Outsiders
Hero. This word is mentioned a lot, but what makes a person a hero? Is being a hero only saving the world from villains trying to enslave the humans, or can it be a small act of kindness? Could it be both? Yes, a hero is someone who is brave, courageous and helps others in need. In the book The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally can be described as heroes because they are not afraid to step up, and help people. Ponyboy is a hero because he rescued people and befriended a soc. Similarly Johnny is a hero because he used his heroic qualities to help people. Finally Dally is a hero because of his kind and heroic actions towards Johnny. All three of these Greasers, Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally show that heroism is not only a matter of saving the world, but it is also a matter of doing something for someone else.
Ponyboy is considered a hero because he is courageous and not afraid to rescue and help people in their times of need. A main reason why Ponyboy is a hero is that when school children are stuck in a fire Ponyboy ran in to rescue them. Ponyboy yells to the teacher, “I’ll get them, don’t worry… I’ll get them,” and immediately rushes into the burning building to rescue the children. This quote shows the true nature of Ponyboy because he is concerned for a group of children trapped in a burning church. He was so worried that he goes in to the burning church with disregard for his safety and saves the kids. What he did when the church was burning meats the definition of a hero perfectly, he was courageous, saved people who needed his help, and was even called a hero by the newspaper. Another way that Ponyboy is a hero is that when Randy, a soc comes over and talks to Ponyboy, Ponyboy listens and talks to Randy about Randy’s problems. Randy then goes on to say, “Thanks kid.” This is a small gesture of kindness shown by Ponyboy, yet it is an act of heroism too. People do not have to save the world to be a hero, a small act of kindness still can take a courageous gesture like overcoming the differences between two people like Ponyboy and Randy did. Heroism in its own simple but pleasant way being kind to others is also heroic. Ponyboy is a hero because no mater how big or small the act of heroism he committed was, it saved, and helped people.
Jonny, like Ponyboy, is a hero in his own unique way. Johnny is a great example of heroism because he shows that everybody has heroic qualities of bravery courageousness and helpfulness inside of them and all it takes is an event to bring the qualities out. One important example is that during the chapter when the church is on fire Johnny not only saves school children but saves Ponyboy by pushing Ponyboy out of the church leaving him self in great danger of being crushed by the building’s falling timbers. Ponyboy describes it like this; “Johnny shoved me backwards towards the window… get out.” This shows Johnny’s bravery and heroism because the building was collapsing and about to crush him. Another act of heroism that Johnny commits is that he stands up for two girls who were being bullied by Dally. Here is the section that Johnny stops Dally from bulling the girls.
“Leave her alone, Dally.””Huh” Dally was taken off guard. He stared at Johnny in disbelief. Johnny couldn’t even say “Boo” to a goose. Johnny gulped and got a little pale, but he said, “You heard me. Leave here alone.”
This part in the story was an exciting and surprising part, were Johnny stood up to Dally whom he admires. Ponyboy puts it this way, “Johnny worships the ground that Dally steps on.” and yet Johnny stood up to Dally to protect two girls. In doing so he earned new friends and gained respect. Both of these are act of heroism because Johnny protects two girls from being bullied by Dally, and is also courageous because Jonny admires Dally and Dally could have beat Johnny up for saying what he did. Instead Dally stormed off in a different direction and didn’t bully the girls anymore. Cherry, one of the girls that Johnny rescued said, “Thank you, he was starting to scare me.” This again shows that Johnny did the right thing, in being brave and courageous, and standing up to Dally. Overall Johnny is a hero because no mater how small or big the deed he committed was, Johnny saved and rescued people. This shows that anyone can be a hero, even a quiet, and reserved kid like him.
Surprisingly, even Dally is a hero. Even though he has done some really bad things, he still has good inside of him. Dally is a great example of how no matter what your background is you can still commit an act of heroism. The best example is when during the fire in the church, a falling timber hits Johnny and Dally runs in to save him. One of the teachers of the kids that Ponyboy and Jonny saved, describes Dally’s action like this. “He burned one arm pretty badly… trying to drag the other kid out the window.” This shows that Dally is a hero because he runs into the collapsing building, without a second thought, and risks his life to drag Johnny out. This is something very special because Dally a criminal who has had many run-ins with the law, yet when given the choice he become a hero by rescuing Johnny . This is definitely an act of heroism because he is saving a life, which is brave, and courageous. Another act heroism that Dally commits is that when Johnny is dying Dally is so worried and concerned for him, that when the doctor doesn’t let him see Johnny, Dally pulls out a switchblade and says, “We gotta see him… We’re gonna see him.” This may seem unimportant, but this small act of heroism, of making sure that they are able to comforts the dying Johnny is very moving, and special. It is tough to know that you are dying, and when Dally and Ponyboy comfort him it allows Johnny to go peacefully and happily, which is especially heroic because it take a big act of courage to see a friend pass on. Both of the times that Dally acts like a hero he shows that anyone can be a hero no matter who you are or where you came from.
A hero is someone who is courageous with noble qualities that allow him to be admired by his peer and other people. In the book The Outsiders by S.E Hinton three boys Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally are all greasers, and have had run-ins with the law. But then during the book they commit heroic acts, and the biggest one was when Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally saved children and one another that were trapped in a building that was on fire. S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders shows that everyone has heroic qualities and all it takes is a dramatic event such as saving someone or an event as small as making peace between you and some one else to expose the heroic qualities of bravery and courageousness.
The Analysis Of Stephen King’s New Book “Outsider”
Outsider review into Stephen King’s new book.
Yep all 500 pages every single word, and oh boy he really wrote a lot. I liked it didn’t love it but liked it. This book definitely doesn’t deserve a movie but it’s a decent read. My thoughts: after reading the outsider I thought it was pretty good. That being said a lot of it is boring, the supernatural element didn’t even become an issue till page 200. The book is mainly about the murder of an eleven-year-old boy and how it affects the residents of Flint city. There are countless eyewitness and DNA evidence that all point to one of flint town most pristine residents the little league coach Terry Maitland. In the middle of a big game detective, Anderson arrested coach terry in front of a crowded audience. After this event, the book continues to focus on detective Anderson, holly, Howie gold, and the grieving wife Marcy as they fight auguste the outsider (that man). At the end like every other Stephen King book, there is a standoff and our hero’s triumph to a certain extent.
What I liked: I liked detective Anderson’s wife she made some good references and helped move the plotMarcy was written very realistic, this really helped you feel for the charter.Howie gold was a fun and heartfelt additive to the bookIt’s well written and very descriptive The defective parts are very interestingThe supernatural part is out of left field It’s disturbing in the right wayThe mystery is very interesting The standoff is greatThe Gerald grocery references were perfectHolly is a good charter and I’m glad she was in this book.Things I didn’t like:It’s really longIts drawn out Parts of the books seem to drag onToo much emphasis on static chartersThe outsider has a lot in common with ITKing kills off terry too earlyIt should have been a crime thrillerThe supernatural element seems forcedTerry’s killer could have had more motivationThe first 200 pages are a different book from the next 300The suicide element of the book could have been more intense.Shapeshifters are never scary no matter what they do.
Analysis: while it was good the book was a little too long for my taste. While that doesn’t ruin a book for me (IT) this one was affected by the length. Books can be good even if they are long the outsider, but where this book fluter is around it’s structuring. For example, you could take the first 200 pages can be put it into a three-act structure. For example act 1 the discovery of the killer and the arrest of coach Terry. Act 2 the interrogation of coach Terry Maitland. Act 3 the death of Terry Maitland. There is even a charter ark with detective Anderson for example in act 1 he is for sure Terry Maitland is the killer. Then in act 2, he starts to question it, act 3 the death of Terry and in death when Terry admits he never did it terry. This is a pretty dark ending but I feel like it should have worked in a good crime thriller. But then Stephen king goes into other direction having holly the pregnant cop from the beginning of the book come in and team up with detective Anderson to solve the case. I guess my main gripe with Stephen King’s latest book is that it takes such a sharp twist if you want to write a paranormal bookwright a paranormal book don’t write a crime drama then a paranormal book.
So, in conclusion, This book would have been better if it was a short story. Grade: C+ if you like numbers I’d give it a 77% its a book you should read if you have no other good Stephen King books to readWould I recommend this book?: All of that being said I would recommend this book if you like Stephen King. If this is your first ever Stephen King book may be read IT or The shining but if you’ve read all of Stephens classics I’d say give this one a look. Because this book is long and drawn out a majority of this book is dark, scary, and entertaining. So if you want a decent book to get scared by Id say give the outsider a read.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton – Why the Greasers Were Considered a Disgrace and Menace to Society
From looking at the two gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, in the book The Outsiders, it is safe to say that the Greasers were the true disgrace and menace to society. The Greasers were able to show this from their looks, their behavior, and their choices that they make.
One reason that the Greasers are considered a disgrace to society was because of their looks. From just looking at them you could tell that they meant trouble. Greasers were not the average group of kids, they were hoods. A quote from the book describes exactly what people thought of them, “But most looked at us like we were dirt.” ,15. Greasers wear their hair long, dress in blue jeans and T-Shirts and leave their shirttails out and wear leather jackets and tennis shoes or boots. They are below middle class and look like they are always trying to steal something because they can not afford anything. The Socs on the other hand are very rich, wore expensive clothes, drove Mustangs. The Socs did bad things but they never get in trouble because they didn’t look like they would do anything bad. If the Greasers and the Socs both did something equally as bad, the only people that would be blamed would be the Greasers because they are a true menace to society even though they might not truly be one.
Another reason that the Greasers are considered a menace to society is because of their behavior. “Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.” ,3. This quote from the book shows that people will think even worse of the Greasers because of their actions. Normal people would not do what they are doing because they have principals. The Greasers were criminals and this gave people a even bigger reason to be scared of them and consider them a disgrace to society. The Socs did similar things but were not punished for them like the Greasers, and were still able to keep a excellent image of themselves. “Not like the Socs, who jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks, and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next.” ,3. This quote shows that unlike the Greasers, whatever the Socs do, it will not ruin their reputation at all. Overall from looking at both the Greasers and the Socs, it is easy to say that the Greasers are a bigger disgrace to society concerning their behavior than the Socs.
One final reason that the Greasers are a bigger menace to society is because of the choices that they make. The Greasers could have been average people but they chose to drop out of school and make them who they are now. Darry is an example, “He had been a real popular guy in school; he was captain of the football team and he had been voted Boy of the Year.” ,16. He couldn’t afford to go to college and now works at a gas station. This may not be his fault but if he would have went to college he could have gotten a good job and would have not become a hood. One final example is Sodapop, who had dropped out of school. If he would not have done that then he too would probably not have become a hood and would be working at a good paying job with his brother Dally. The Socs on the other hand did not have to worry about their choice because their money could fix anything bad that they ever did. Overall from looking at the Greasers and the Socs, putting into consideration their choices the Greasers were a bigger disgrace to society than the Socs.
From looking at the looks, the behavior, and the choices of both the Greasers and the Socs it is able to be concluded that the Greasers were the true disgrace to society. Even though the Greasers and Socs both did many bad things, at the end of the day, the Greasers had the worst image of all.
The Outsiders – a Look at Crime in the Street and the Labelling Theory
Gangs, the Street, and Labelling Theory in The Outsiders
Youth crime is a hot topic in society; when young people are involved in any type of crime, news outlets are quick to report it (Minaker & Hogeveen 5). Even entertainment outlets use the phenomenon of youth crime to their advantage. According to Minaker and Hogeveen, this type of media discourse presents “a one-sided conversation filled with images and messages about youth crime” (7). These images and messages are often skewed because they fail to explain the societal factors that led to the occurrence and tend to portray youth committing crimes as just “bad”. Many television shows and movies sensationalize youth crime, particularly gang-related youth crime, in an attempt to represent the growing concerns that youth crime, youth gangs, and youth violence is on the rise (9). Specifically, the topic of youth gangs has been a popular subject in the world of fiction. One of the most popular works on the topic was S.E. Hinton’s book, The Outsiders. The popularity of the story led it to be adapted into a film. The movie, staring C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, and Ralph Macchio, carries many relevant themes, trends, and dynamics in relation to youths, gangs, violence, and crime. The Outsiders, outlines the factors that lead to youth joining gangs and demonstrates the dynamics of class relations. Overall, the film provides an example for labelling theory at work, as the label of the “greaser” guides most of the actions and assumptions made by characters throughout the film.
The Outsiders, set in 1966 Tulsa, Oklahoma, centers around 14 year-old “greaser” Ponyboy Curtis and his friends and fellow greasers Dallas “Dally” Winston and Johnny (The Outsiders 1983). There, many teenage boys are either “greasers”, lower-class teens from the north side of the town that are seen as delinquents by many of the adults in their neighbourhood, or they’re “socs”, middle- and upper-class teens from the south side of town, who have money, nice cars, and a stable future (The Outsiders 1983). The two sides are often at odds with each other, as their different lifestyles create tension between the two groups. Things become more heated after Johnny stabs and kills a “soc” in order to save Ponyboy’s life. Dally, who has been to jail in the past, helps Johnny and Ponyboy run away to an abandoned church to hide from the police. While out there, the church catches on fire and the three rescue children trapped inside. Upon returning home, Ponyboy and Dally learn that the death of the soc has led to a “rumble”, an agreed upon battle by both sides with set rules, being planned (The Outsiders 1983). With Johnny incapacitated in the hospital, the Ponyboy, Dally, along with Ponyboy’s older brothers, Sodapop and Darry, their friends Two-Bit Matthews and Steve Randle and the rest of the Greaser gang defeat the Socs in a “no weapons” brawl (The Outsiders 1983). After the rumble, Johnny dies and Dally, out of grief, commits an armed robbery and gets shot by the shop owner and soon after the police, which kills him. The film touches on many important aspects involved in the examination of youth crime. Most explicit is the view the film takes on youth gangs.
According to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, a gang is “a group of persons consorting together to engage in unlawful activity” (Minaker & Hogeveen 235). The Outsiders provides examples of two different gangs; the Greasers and the Socs. While both gangs engage in unlawful activity, such as underage drinking and assault, the film focuses on the Greasers. The Greasers are comprised of young males from lower class families. While the film doesn’t explicitly outline why each member of the Greasers decided to join, their socio-economic status represents one of the main reasons that youths choose to join gangs. In their chapter on youth gangs and violence, Minaker and Hogeveen comprise a list of risk factors for youth and gang involvement (236). The list includes poverty and home life, coupled with a sense of hopelessness (236-242). These factors are all demonstrated by the Greasers. The Curtis brothers and their home represents the poverty that many youth involved in gang life experience. The gate around the house is rusted, the exterior of the home is in need of repairs, and there are several holes on the walls inside the home. Also, after Ponyboy returns from the hospital, he points out to Darry that they cannot afford for Darry to take the day off of work and care for him. The impoverished, “ghetto-like” living conditions that the Curtis brothers live in are one of the factors that many youth involved in gangs live in (242). Another major factor contributing to youth joining gangs is a poor home life. The Curtis brothers come from a broken home, as their parents were killed in an accident with a train, Johnny’s parents fight often and admits that his father can be physically abusive when he drinks, and while out with Ponyboy and Johnny, Dally expresses that his father doesn’t care whether he’s alive or dead. The Greasers spend so much time together at the Curtis home that the gang itself has become a somewhat stable family unit for many members, where they feel a sense of acceptance that they do not feel at home or in society. The lack of a stable home life and acceptance from others in society can also lead to a sense of hopelessness, which Johnny shows at the beginning of the film where he admits he has thought about killing himself because of his abusive home. The sense of community that is gained by gang involvement is a major factor in why youth become involved in gang life (242). They are all united by their chronic instabilities of poor housing, relationships and incomes. The need for acceptance and attachment is what drives the Greasers to join together, as they all suffer from similar poor economic and family conditions; something that the rival gang, the Socs, do not share.
Another issue that is showcased in The Outsiders is how class dynamics can affect youth crime. Class is arguably one of the most powerful factors that structures modern society (6). The conflict between the Greasers and Socs begins from this structure. The Greasers and Socs come from two different socio-economic backgrounds. The Greasers are poor and “powerless” compared to the wealthier Socs, who have more opportunities because of their high status. While a common reason for youths joining gangs is a poor economic status, youth from all social classes and can become involved in street crime (186). However, the film’s major focus is on the Greasers, as it is more common for youths suffering from the politics of exclusion to develop deviant behaviour (184). The politics of exclusion is the social isolation of members of society that is reinforced by the relationships of power that are present (184). In The Outsiders, the Greasers are literally “outsiders” in society. They are isolated due to the fact that they have a lower economic status than the Socs, who are the powerful. They are also easily recognizable and distinguishable from the Socs, and are described as “white trash with long greasy hair” (The Outsiders 1983). Class dynamics plays an important role in the film. It fuels the aggression that both groups have towards each other. Many youths involved in crime and gang life rely on criminal activity as a form of survival (Minaker & Hogeveen 236). They lack the opportunity to achieve societal goals (22). Thus, they rely on crime and misdemeanor to achieve those goals and feel like they have a purpose in society (23). The Greasers lack the financial means that allows them to attain the same achievements as the Socs. Sodapop must sacrifice his education in order to financially support his family. Meanwhile, the Socs do not need to work in order to have financial support. The differences in class and dynamic of the power that the upper-class Socs have over the lower-class Greasers encourages the Greasers to act out against the Socs. For example, Dally slashes the tires of one of the Socs’ cars. The class dynamics that are at play in the movie demonstrate a conflict approach to theorizing crime, where the assumption is that crime occurs when individuals and groups in society hold conflicting social, political, or economic interests, which places powerful groups against the marginalized (20). This approach is best shown through labelling theory.
While The Outsiders provides insight on why youth gravitate towards gang life and how class dynamics play a role in youth crime, it also sheds light on labelling theory. Labelling theory believes that when someone is labelled a “criminal” or “deviant” in society, they will act in a criminal or deviant manner (30). This perspective considers certain acts to be criminal when they labelled by social groups and institutions as such (6). Those who committed the criminal acts where committing “secondary deviance”, whereby committing an offence that has been seen labelled by society as “criminal” they have seemingly accepted the label of “criminal” and engage in activities that reflect that label (69). This theory is shown throughout the film. At the very beginning of The Outsiders, when Ponyboy asks Dally wants to do, he replies with “nothing legal” (The Outsiders 1983). Despite the fact that many of the Socs commit the same acts as the Greasers, the label of being a “greaser” makes the Greasers the deviants. Dally often acts upon that label by harassing children and Cherry Valance, a Soc girlfriend, slashing a Soc’s tires, being rude to the nurse in the hospital, and committing an armed robbery after Johnny’s death. Instead of trying to break the stigma of being a Greaser, Dally chose to abide by the label given to him by society. Ponyboy and Johnny, on the other hand, go against their “Greaser” label by saving the children from the fire in the abandoned church. When Ponyboy is riding in the ambulance, one of the teachers that was with the children asks if Ponyboy and his friends were professional heroes. Ponyboy responds by telling him that they are Greasers and the teacher is surprised. The label “greaser” has a negative connotation, which causes many to believe that the Greasers are inherently deviant. This is despite the fact that many Greasers act out because they are called criminals, not because they have actually committed an offence.
The Outsiders not only showcases the youth crime genre, but it provides insight on why youths join gangs, the class struggles that disenfranchised youth deal with, and how labels such as “deviant”, “criminal”, or “Greaser” can lead to a youth to actually becoming deviant. Youth facing poverty and poor home lives often feel hopeless and will turn to gangs to achieve a sense of community. Since class dynamics structure society, these poorer youth often find themselves in difficult situations, where they feel as if they must commit an offense in order to achieve the shared goals of society. Labelling theory reflects the class dynamics in society, as it is those who hold power in society that create the labels (Minaker & Hogeveen 70). The class and power struggle provides a primary reason for youths to join gangs. Youth involvement in crime is almost cyclical. Those who come from poorer economic and familial backgrounds turn to gang life in order to boost their status. However, those with higher status will perceive them as a threat and provide them with the label of deviant. These overlapping themes and theories demonstrate why understanding youth crime is so important. If one can understand the causes and socio-economic factors that lead to youth committing crimes, it becomes easier to deal with and find solutions for.
The Outsiders: Racism in the Media and Targeting of Minority
Last week, James Lull’s “Hegemony” and Stuart Hall’s “Deconstructing the Popular” discussed how dominance is asserted over other cultures, both actively and passively. As I mentioned in my response last week, Lull tends to favor a more passive model of hegemony, while Hall describes the process as “active marginalization.” This combination of active and passive dominance over minority groups was demonstrated in several of this week’s readings.
In “The Whites of Their Eyes,” Stuart Hall describes these active and passive processes as “overt” and “inferential” racism. Overt racism fits the definition of marginalization Hall gave previously, where favorable coverage is given to those advocating for openly racist positions. Inferential racism, on the other hand, fits closer to Lull’s passive model, where unquestioned assumptions create racist undertones, often without the speaker even realizing what they are doing.
Various examples were given fitting both of these definitions. “Reel Injun” described the homogenization of various Native American cultures into a stereotyped Plains Indian, regardless of where the setting of the film actually was. This effectively stripped most Native American groups of their culture and national identity. The film explained that this choice was mostly utilitarian, to allow Native Americans in film to become a highly recognizable archetype, rather than a deliberate assault on Native culture, making this an example of inferential racism. More overt examples, closer to Hull’s definition, came with depictions of Native Americans and African Americans as savages and villains nearly exclusively, a trend which began in the early to mid-20th century and continued through the Civil Rights movement. As described in both “Reel Injun” and “Beyond Ferguson,” this was done actively to minimize the atrocities of slavery and colonialism committed against these people groups, and downplay their calls for civil rights.
As one would expect, minority groups resisted these depictions. One of the main means of resistance was through the establishment of Native and African American media. “Talking Back, Moving Forward” explains that this process allowed Native Americans to control how they are depicted by employing Native actors and directors, even making films specifically designed for the Native audience. A similar process was described in “New Heroes,” where African American writers created comics with black heroes specifically targeting black audiences.
There is significant debate within these groups as to whether minority-centered media should target an exclusive audience, or make the film accessible to “outsider” groups as well. While the exclusive films can be valuable to preserving culture, as described in “Reel Injun,” I believe that in general, these products should be accessible to outsiders. Simple economics is a primary motivator for this. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” cost $280 million to produce in 2015. If, to take an example from “New Heroes,” a superhero movie with a black protagonist was produced for an exclusively black audience with little carry over into outside groups, even if all 41.7 million black Americans bought a ticket, the film would turn a rather meager profit. One of the strongest arguments for these types of films is that minority children deserve to be able to see heroes like them on the silver screen. To accomplish this, the film must have a broad enough appeal to generate the revenues studios look for. The recent release of “Wonder Woman,” which depicts a non-American, female protagonist, used this broad appeal to help propel itself to the top of the box office.
Beyond this, some feel that they can more effectively advocate for their people groups with a broader appeal. By inviting in outsiders, they are able to reshape the stereotypes held by these groups, as was shown in the works of Sherman Alexi, among others. Some filmmakers reject titles like “Native filmmaker” for this reason; they find the term puts an undo amount of pressure on them to “speak for their tribes” and pigeonholes their works. They prefer to simply describe themselves as artist who make films about things they are passionate about, which includes the proper depiction of their people groups. This trend is not an uncommon one in groups that appeal to a small, specialized audience. Artists like U2, Paramore, and Twenty One Pilots, for example, identify as Christians and incorporate Christian themes to various extents in their music. All three of these artists reject the label of “Christian band” for many of the same reasons minority filmmakers reject their labels – they feel it narrows their audience, ultimately hindering their ability to express what they believe in their music.
My two questions this week center around the contrasting ideas I discussed above. First, in what ways is media today both overtly and inferentially racist? Where and how does overt racism take place in a society where many like to believe such things are “behind us?” Second, how do you feel about appealing to “outsiders” in media produced specifically for minority groups, like Native cinema?
The Five Stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in The Outsiders, a Novel by S. E. Hinton
“Psychology is the endlessly fascinating science of the human mind and behavior” (Gillespie 1). Psychological criticism is used to enhance the knowledge of literature by analyzing the behaviors and motives of dynamic characters throughout several theories. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is one of many theories. This concept has five stages: physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. The stages are arranged in a triangle, with the fundamental needs at the bottom. Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people and their actions, and this is shown through his pyramid. First, people are motivated to meet their basic survival needs including food and water. Once those are met, they move on to be motivated by the next stage up, such as esteem or belonging needs. Eventually, when all their needs are satisfied, they may move on to the self-fulfillment stage. In S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Johnny Cade’s motives and actions, over time, can be categorized into all the different stages of Maslow’s theory.
Safety and love needs are closely related for Johnny. First, he reached his safety needs. “His father was always beating him up, and his mother ignored him… He would have run away a million times if we hadn’t been there”. Although he did not feel safe at home, he felt safe with the gang. Also, he had his love and belonging needs met along with the physical needs. “If it hadn’t been for the gang, Johnny would never have known what love and affection are” (14). The other greasers gave him a sense of belonging, especially considering his rough life at home. They loved and cared for him even if his parents did not. This also caused his shy and timid actions at the time since he struggled with his safety, love, and belonging at home. He was motivated to reach a feeling of belongingness or safety, and once he got there his motives affected his further actions.
As Johnny started to move past the basic needs, he eventually reached the stages of esteem needs and self-actualization. After he saved the children from the burning church, he was praised and respected. “Their lives are worth more than mine, they have more to live for. Some of their parents came by to thank me and I knew it was worth it”. He knew that endangering his life for them was the right choice to make, and he was content with it. He had earned the respect of other people, even though he was a greaser. After he satisfied the esteem needs, he reached the self-actualization stage before death. He told Pony, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold…” . He fulfilled his life, and knew that dying was worth it to save the children. He also realized the meaning of the poem, and how it related to him and Pony’s lives. “You’re gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid everything’s new, dawn. It’s just when you get used to everything that it’s day” . He wanted to tell Ponyboy to stay young and innocent, and not to make the wrong choices in life. Johnny made his way through all the stages, because once he met his physical needs, he moved on to satisfy his emotional and psychological needs.
In conclusion, Johnny’s actions over time can be categorized into the five stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He was motivated to meet his safety and belongingness needs, and these were provided by the gang. Afterwards, he saved the children and was praised and respected, which fulfilled his self-esteem needs. Finally, at his death, he reached the self-actualization stage when he realized all of his choices were worth it. He realized that everything he did was worth his life, and he advised Ponyboy to stay young and innocent. Johnny shows that, even with rough conflicts and struggles in his life, he was able to move past them and was motivated to reach self-actualization.
The Influence of Bad Parenting or the Lack of Parents in The Outsiders, a Novel by S. E. Hinton
Without parents-or good ones at least- where would you be today? In a gang, in jail, or even dead? That is the lifestyle that too many children and young adults face and it is no different in The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, where good parents and a whole family are far and few between. Almost everyone in the gang, from Johnny to Bob is experiencing or has experienced at some point parent issues and this seldom has nothing to do with them being in a gang and going through mental and/or physical trauma. Hinton skillfully lets the readers infer the underlying theme of such common problems between the gang members. By the end of the book, it’s quite evident that parenting, and family as a whole, is an important part of how people develop and how they live their lives.
One of the first and most prominent examples of this in the novel is Johnny’s case horribly of abusive parents. His parents beat him and make him feel unwelcome to the point where he pretty much lives on the streets. Because of his family’s destructive behavior, Johnny joins a gang to get even a miniscule idea of what it’s like to have a family. Even when he is in the hospital, weak and vulnerable, his parents’ cruelty was never forgotten. “A nurse appeared in the doorway. ‘Johnny,’ she said quietly, “your mother’s here to see you.’ Johnny opened his eyes. At first they were wide with surprise, then they darkened. ‘I don’t want to see her”. His parents’ abuse towards Johnny even leads him to find himself on the streets when he gets jumped by Socs and kills one of them which subsequently leads to his death. Due to his terrible circumstances, Ponyboy even describes him at the beginning of the novel as, “a little dark puppy who’s been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd a strangers”. Although this judgment may have seemed harsh at the beginning of the book, that is exactly what Johnny was, and the quote proves the point that the reason he found himself in a gang was because of him being “kicked around too much” by his parents. Johnny could of been a tremendously different and stronger person had it not been for the iron fist of evil his parents had clenched him with.
Although it’s not as evident in the novel, there are some rather large hints towards the fact that the Curtis boys would’ve been a much different and much more successful in life had it not been for the death of their parents and an auto crash. It’s mostly hinted that Darry would’ve finished school and done something with his life before the need for a parent figure appeared in the Curtis family. Due to this instantaneous succession and him needing to play the part of two parents for three children, Ponyboy makes a remark at the beginning of the book that sums it up nicely. “But then, Darry’s gone through a lot in his twenty years, grown up too fast. What Ponyboy is stating here is that Darry had matured very quickly and he later remarks that he dropped school to take care of Sodapop and Ponyboy. “One time, Steve made the mistake of referring to him as ‘all brawn, no brains,’ and Darry almost shattered Steve’s jaw…Darry has never really gotten over not going to college.” Darry quite obviously would’ve become a different person than he was in the book if his parents were still alive due to his feeling of necessity to dropout of school and him becoming the father figure and maturing very quickly. Parenting or lack thereof clearly took its toll on the Curtis family.
One last example of bad parenting or lack of family leading to unfortunate or unwanted results is Bob Sheldon. All the information about Bob that the reader receives is either from Randy, Cherry or from inferencing and reading between the lines. Randy tells Ponyboy that Bob wasn’t really a bad person but his parents let him do anything that he wanted with no sense of boundary, limit, or consequence which led to him joining a gang and terrorizing the Greasers. Cherry also reinforces a similar image of Bob being a good guy after Ponyboy inviting her to visit Johnny in the hospital and her declining saying, “‘You only knew his bad side. He could be sweet sometimes, and friendly. But when he got drunk.” . Bob had a good side but his bad side was a monster feeding off his parents’ negligence of it. His parents never even showed a watching or even caring eye about Bob’s activities and this leads to his death in the end. The inference the reader needs to make about Bob is near the end of the novel where Ponyboy is looking through an old yearbook and finally sees the Bob that Cherry knew. “What was he like? I knew he liked to pick fights, had the usual Soc belief that living on the West Side made you Mr. Supper-Tuff, looked good in dark wine-colored sweaters and was proud of his rings. But what about the Bob Sheldon that Cherry Valance knew?”. This is a moment of realization to Ponyboy, where he sees the real Bob, not the one his parents let take hold of him through turning a blind eye to his behavior. Maybe if he had better parents he wouldn’t have died such a young death.
In the novel, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, parenting plays a big role in developing characters and influencing their decisions from Johnny to Bob- two polar opposites. It affects who they are, what they do and most importantly, who they become in the novel. Parenting can have a positive or negative affect and bad parenting can cause people to be lost in life, and even die in the cases of Johnny and Bob. Through clear examples in the book, such a theme is almost hard to miss, and it plays such an important role in the evolution of each and every character.