The Outsiders Analysis Essay

Ponyboy’s connections with greasers

         Everyone has been told, to “never judge a book by its cover”. Maybe it’s widely spread because of people like Ponyboy Curtis, who appears in the book, “The Outsiders”; written by S.E Hinton in 1967. It is hard to find where he contradicts the stereotype at first, as his physical appearance and speech is very much like a greaser. Wherever he diverts from the greaser stereotype becomes clear when observing into his personality and the mental aspect of Ponyboy.

 

        Ponyboy’s appearance conforms to of a greaser; with his clothing style and speech. Like many of the greasers, he is a heavy smoker as well. The first Impression of Ponyboy isn’t surprising if you were told beforehand that he is a greaser. Wearing leather jackets, blue jeans, T-shirts and smoking cigarettes are the signature look and actions of a greaser, and Ponyboy follows it. He has a smoking habit repeatedly throughout the chapters, and he is seen quoting about smoking as “[it] always lessens the tension”(15). Furthermore, Ponyboy has long greased hair which he thinks he “looks better [with]”(1), and is his “pride”(87). Following up to his hair, he thinks that his hair “label[ed] [us] as greasers”(87). This quote from Ponyboy shows how much he cares about what defines him as a greaser physically, and a strong sense of him wanting to be in a “tight-knit [group]”(5) or to be associated with a group. In this case, the greasers. When Ponyboy himself is making him look like a greaser, how can the readers spot the difference between them? With the first person view that the book is written in, the readers are able to directly see the emotions and changes in his mind, which are very contrasting from most of the greasers and the gang.

 

        Unlike greasers that are quick to act by emotions and tries to be involved in fights, Ponyboy generally “tr[ies] to stay out of trouble”(3), even though he is capable of fighting, making him a much more passive figure than his friends. Ponyboy says himself that he “digs movies and books”(2), when other greasers like Sodapop and Darry “can’t sit still long enough to enjoy a movie”(3), or would “bore him to death”(3), showcasing Ponyboy’s longer attention span. His longer attention span contributes to him thinking more, like how he would “watch sunsets”(50). Not only these, but the fact that he “makes good grades”(4) and is an overall good student at school unlike his gang members who dropped out of school, or performs poorly, makes him more of a thinker than a greaser who are more emotional in the way they act. It makes it clear that Ponyboy’s personality and his likes clearly diverts from the greasers. He does well at school, unlike many of his gang members. He reads and watches movies, which makes him think critically, whereas greasers tend to lack the attention span and care needed to. He is passive in a way that he does not want to start fights, although he can defend himself. When people are often driven by their emotions into unwanted results, Ponyboy doesn’t seem to follow this with his logical thinking, which clearly divert from the greaser stereotype. factors of Ponyboy makes him one of the limited greasers who can build a stable future.

 

        That also shows that his personality and likes are different from a typical greaser. Ponyboy tries “not [to] get caught”(2) when involved in trouble, if he has to be involved in it, in the first place. While Dally and other greasers would seem to try to show off their strengths in fights and brawls, Ponyboy wouldn’t be the one starting fights, though he is capable of defending himself through combat, seen from his speech and actions beforehand. He also tends to keep his cool and remind himself of the consequences, as how he would be separated from his two brothers, his only family, if he misbehaved or caught doing so. These actions very contrasting from a greaser like Dally who had “quite a reputation”(13) for his rough behaviours and his need to do thing illegally whenever he could, making Ponyboy more of a thinker than most of the other greasers.

 

        Even though Ponyboy’s physical appearance can be deceiving, his personality and mentality contradict the stereotype of a greaser, when Ponyboy’s looks conform to the looks of a greaser. He wears leather jackets, blue jeans and T-shirts, topping it with long greased hair. However, underneath his speech and looks, there’s a more passive 14-year-old boy, who likes to read, watch movies and to think. In the real world, the lower-class thugs are often stereotyped as heartless ‘hoods’ whom involve in crime and are unintelligent. However, that stereotype mainly exists from their looks and speech, and not their personality or beliefs. Like the how the Socs segregate themselves from the greasers, the real world tends to look first contrast people from their racial or ethnic stereotype, before giving them a chance. It is always important to remember that, nothing can be defined at first glance.

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In The Outsiders, sunrise and sunset are symbols of unity and connection. For example, when Ponyboy connects with Cherry at the movies on the topic of sunsets, he begins to realize that all humans...

What's Up With the Title?

Both S.E. Hinton and her protagonist, Ponyboy, are well aware of the fact that you can be within a group and still exist as an outsider. Notice how the title refers to multiple people: many differe...

What's Up With the Ending?

Ponyboy tells a tragic tale—a tale of violence, of poverty, and of young men dying in the streets. But, luckily, The Outsiders manages to end on a happy note, with most of Ponyboy's major problem...

Allusions

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1.77) Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (5.12, 5.45, 5.69, 8.19, 8.20, 10.60)Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" (5.59, 5.61, 12.64)Jack London (9.80)Haro...

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