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Essay on Protagonist in 'The Outsiders'

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The Outsiders was written by S.E. Hinton. S.E. Hinton is an American writer who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and she was best known for her novel The Outsiders. This was one of her most successful books and she wrote it during high school. When I came across this book I did my research on the author and saw that she wrote books for young adults and that she wrote this when she was in high school. This grabbed my interest because I am in high school and I thought this book would relate to me in some way. Now I am going to give you an overview of the book, my thoughts on it, and give you some spoilers about it.

The setting of The Outsiders is the mid-1960s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The story is told in the first person by Ponyboy, who is the protagonist. The story goes into the rivalry between the Socs and the Greasers gang rivalry. The Socs were the middle-class gang and the Greasers were the low-class gang. The main characters in this story and Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Cade. Ponyboy Curtis is 14 years old and Johnny is 16 years old, they are both in the Greaser gang. When I first heard one of the main characters’ names was Ponyboy I thought to myself is this a made-up name, does he want to go by this, is he bullied, anything besides that was his real name? Well, it’s actually his real name and then I thought to myself what is a boy with this name and his age doing in a gang rivalry?

The story starts with Ponyboy walking home from the movies all by himself, then he sees a red car following him and he gets nervous because he suspects it's the Socs. The Socs get out of the car and they jump Ponyboy, Ponyboy was trying to stay calm. In my opinion, Ponyboy should’ve been walking home with one of his friends home from the movie or asked them for a ride. Instead, he wasn’t thinking and he just walked home and he gets jumped by a gang of Socs. One of the Socs pulled out a switchblade and put it towards his neck, he started screaming for help. My first thought to this was why when you outnumber a 14-year-old you pull out a switchblade and threaten to kill. The Socs are just ignorant, stupid, and mean. His brothers and his friends come and chase away the Socs. In Chapters 1 and 2, Ponyboy is describing his lifestyle, his friends, his brothers, and the rivalry with the Socs. He also tells us his parents got into a car accident when he was younger. In Chapter 3 everyone except Darrel goes to the drive-by movies because he has to work. Ponyboy and Johnny met these two Soc girls named Cherry and Maria, Ponyboy was surprised they were so nice they talked the whole time they were at the movies. Seriously, I would’ve been surprised as well if I heard the stories and seen with my own eyes how the Socs act toward Greasers anyway. From what I know the Socs are just mean and ruthless to Greasers, but these two Soc girls are just nice to a Greaser they just met. Afterward, her boyfriend Bob was driving down the street and he told her to come with him and get away from the Greasers. She did this so they wouldn’t be any fighting. Ponyboy and Johnny returned home. I would’ve been relieved because the way Ponyboy described Bob he’s much bigger than an average size 14-year old which is Ponyboy. I know Ponyboy was happy to get home to his brothers.

Later on, around Chapter 4, Ponyboy gets into an argument with Darrell, his older brother, and he runs away to the park and Johnny follows him. Ponyboy and Johnny are talking and then a blue mustang pulls up and it was the Socs. It was Bob, Cherry’s boyfriend, and the group of Socs all getting out of the car drunk. At this point, I’m running away as soon as I see the blue mustang, but no Ponyboy and Johnny literally wait there until they get out and now they’re in trouble. Bob tries to drown Ponyboy and he almost kills him, but Johnny fought off the Socs who was holding him, and then Johnny pulled out a switchblade and stabbed Bob. Bob died and everyone ran off. Ponyboy and Johnny went straight to Dally, also known as Dallas Winston a gang member of the greaser because they knew he’s been in a situation like this before back in New York. This is where I would’ve just would’ve gone to my brothers Darrell and Sodapop because it was self-defense and they clearly tried to kill me. Instead of running off to Dally, I know they would’ve given me the logical thing to do. Dally told Ponyboy and Johnny to go to Windrixville and hide there. He gave them money and said he would visit them when things cooled down. I feel like they messed up asking Dallas who’s not a good influence and not very smart with his decisions. You could’ve asked an adult like maybe your brother, Ponyboy.

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In Chapter 6, Johnny and Ponyboy have been hiding in a church in Windrixville for 5 days. Dally visits Johnny and Ponyboy and takes them to Dairy Queen. Johnny says he wants to go back home and confess and Dally tried to talk him out of it but Johnny wouldn’t change his mind. He decided to take both of them home, but on the way back they saw the church building on fire and went to check it out. I don’t understand them because who goes to the burning church building instead of just going home and getting this issue solved so we can go back to our regular lives, maybe? They saw kids not too far from the building but then they heard some inside the building so Johnny and Ponyboy went to help the children out. The building was starting to collapse and it was about to collapse on Ponyboy Johnny pushed him out of the way and it landed on him. The firefighter and ambulance came and Ponyboy woke up and he was in the ambulance. He was transported to the hospital where he met his brothers. See what happens when you don’t mind your own business, I understand they tried to save the children but now you’re in a hospital bed injured.

In Chapter 10, Ponyboy and Dally have recovered from their injuries but Johnny is in critical condition with severe burns. There is also a brawl between the Socs and Greasers. Ponyboy and Dally need to be there so they left Johnny and promised they would be back. Look, if you would’ve just come back you wouldn’t have to worry about someone being in critical condition. I think they caused way too much trouble up to this point just for being scared even though they did nothing wrong. I also don’t believe Ponyboy should be in this fight. Ponyboy and Dally make it to the rumble and they start fighting. Ponyboy suffers a concussion, but the Greasers held their own and beat the Socs. Dally and Ponyboy made it back to the hospital, but as soon as they get there Johnny passes away saying “stay gold” to Ponyboy. Now y’all are all sad and you could’ve avoided this situation by just going to the police and then you had another opportunity to just go home but you stopped by the burning church building. Ponyboy collapsed because of his concussion and he was resting. Dally was angry that Johnny died so he went to rob a store and then he ran from the police, he called his friends to tell them what was happening. Dally pulled out an unloaded gun and pointed it toward the police officers and they shot and killed him. Dallas you didn’t have to rob a store you could’ve just mourned like the rest of the Greasers and kept living life. No, you just had to rob the store and then pull out an unloaded gun for basic suicide. Now the Greasers have lost another member because of stupidity.

In Chapter 12, Ponyboy was still recovering from his concussion, but he still had a hearing to go to about his murder case. They ruled it as self-defense and Ponyboy got to return home with his brothers and friends. Ponyboy was not himself after that, his grades started suffering, and he became more violent, and angry. I understand that Ponyboy is going through a lot right now and that his emotions are everywhere. He lost two members of the Greasers, one who was very close to him and one who he admired for his toughness. Ponyboy has been through a lot and now he suffering but I hope you keep going because this would make you great if you push through.

I found this book to be very interesting. I thought it was well thought out and well written. In my opinion, the outsiders showed the social class of the 1960s. There wasn’t necessarily gang violence with the social classes but that’s how S.E. Hinton saw it. People in the lower class were homeless or struggling even though they were employed just like the Greasers. The Socs were like the middle class, with the mom and dad getting paid to provide for their family. The Socs look down on the Greasers for the lifestyle that they didn’t choose which was unfair. At the end of the story, Ponyboy had gone through a lot of physical and emotional injuries. The gang rivalry was too much for Ponyboy and his friends are dead because of it. With his closest friend Johnny dying, and his fellow Greaser Dally dying he went through a lot of pain and he had a lot of built-up hatred. Another reason I like this book is it relates to me because I have family members who were a part of gangs and I worried about them. I hope they don’t end up like the way some of the characters did in this story.

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