The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
The Outsiders Plot Summary
Ponyboy Curtis, the narrator and main character, begins the book at the movie theater after watching a Paul Newman film. As he walks home, his mind wanders and he thinks about how he wishes that he had Paul Newman’s looks, although he admits that his aren’t that bad. As he continues, he starts to wish that he had company for the walk home because the Greasers, his gang, tend to be jumped by a rival gang, the Socials, if they walk alone. Ponyboy admits that he doesn=t take part in the usual gang mischief, because if he does he will be separated from his brother Darry, who has been his guardian since his parent=s died. As he walks, a red car starts trailing him, and he thinks about his friend Johhny Cade as he quickens his pace. Johnny was jumped a while ago by some Socs and never really fully recovered from the psychological trauma. He snaps back to reality as the car stops and some Socs circle him. One asks, Need a haricut, greaser? and pulls out a knife. They begin to beat up Ponyboy, who cries out for help. The other greasers soon answer his call, chase away the Socs, and they make plans for the following night. Ponyboy returns home and discusses with his brother Sodapop their current situation right now and Sodapop’s love for his girlfriend, Sandy.
Ponyboy and Johhny go to the nightly double, a drive in theater, with Dally. They sneak in even though it only costs a quarter and sit behind two girls. Dally starts talking dirty to them and one of them, a red head, turns and cooly asks him to stop. Dally continues and then goes to buy some Coca-Cola while Ponyboy chats with the red-head. He learns the names of the two girls, the red-head is Cherry and the other one is Marcia. He learns that they came to the movies with their boyfriends, but they were drunk so the girls left and decided to watch the movie anyways. Dally returns with the drinks and Cherry throws hers in his face. Dally then tries to make an advance on her, but the usually quiet Johnny stuns everybody by standing up for the girls. Defeated, Dally goes to find some other fun and the other greasers move up a row to sit with the girls. As they are watching the movie, Two-Bit, another greaser, arrives and scares them all. While there he mentions the greasers two main rules: Stick together, and never get caught. Cherry and Ponyboy go to get popcorn, and Pony tells her about the Socs that beat up Johnny. Cherry quickly assures him that not all Socs are violent like the ones that beat up Johnny. She also says Things are rough all over, but Ponyboy doesn’t believe her.
After the movie they realize the girls do not have a ride home, so the greasers offer to walk them to two-bits and then drive them home with Two-bits car. The girls accept and as they walk home Cherry asks Ponyboy about Darry, when she does he says that Darry doesn’t like him and wishes he could get rid of him. Two-bit and Johnny are startled and tell him that’s not how Darry feels. After Ponyboy talks more about Sodaop and him and Cherry realize they are very much alike, for example both Ponyboy and Cherry like reading and watching sunsets. Ponyboy then expresses his frustration about the Socials that they get everything they want and they jump greasers out of sheer boredom. Cherry retaliates saying that the main difference between the two groups is that Socials feel too little, and greasers too violently. As they argue, a blue mustang cruises by the group. It belongs to Bob and Randy, Cherry and Marcia’s boyfriends. The mustang stops and Randy and Bob get out, Ponyboy realizes these are the same Socs that beat up Johnny because Bob is wearing three heavy rings just like the ones that Johnny described. He looks over at Johnny and sees the panic in his eyes. Two-bit tries to pick a fight and Cherry agrees to go with the Socs to prevent that. Before Cherry leaves, Ponyboy tells her to remember that they watch the same sunset, and Cherry says she could fall in love with Dally. Ponyboy is left standing there startled. After he and Johhny go to the empty lot the greasers use as a hangout spot. They fall asleep talking and when Ponyboy wakes up he rushes home. Darry is furious and in the heat of the argument he slaps Ponyboy on the cheek. Ponyboy has never been hit by anybody in his family and so he turns around and runs. He finds Johnny still sleeping in the lot and they decide to walk to the park and back to give Ponyboy some time to cool off.
This late at night the park is deserted. Suddenly, the two boys see the blue mustang from earlier and five Socs get out, including Bob and Randy. The Socs attack them for picking up their girlfriends, and the Socs try and drown Ponyboy in the fountain. Pony blacks out and when he wakes up Johnny has his switchblade out. He looks over at Bob who is curled into a ball, and not moving. Johnny admits to killing him, saying if I didn’t they would have drowned you. Johnny suggests they go see Dally, and when they find him at a party, Dally gives them fifty dollars, a gun, and some clothing. He instructs the boys to take a train to Windrixville and hide in an abandoned church. They follow Dally’s instructions and collapse into sleep once they get inside.
The next morning, Ponyboy wakes up to a note from Johnny, saying he has gone into town to get supplies. When Johnny comes back, he trips over himself and asks where he=s been, to which Johnny replies that your becoming more like Two-bit every day. Johnny insists they cut their hair to disguise themselves. For the next week they do nothing but read Gone with the Wind, smoke, and watch the sunrise and sunset. During one sunrise, Ponyboy recites a poem Nothing Gold Can Stay, and it really impacts Johnny. At the end of the week, Dally shows up with a letter from Sodapop describing how he and Darry are scared to death, and how Darry is really sorry. Dally says that he told the police that the boys had fled to texas, and that it would be safe to come out. They go to Dairy Queen to get something to eat, and Dally tells them that in one day the two gangs will meet for a rumble.
Johnny says he wants to go home and turn himself in, but Dally tries to change his mind, telling him you get hardened in jail. Ponyboy is shocked by the display of affection Dally shows and Johnny says he’s doing it because his parents wouldn’t care, but Ponyboy has two brothers that care for him a lot. As they drive away, they see the church on fire, and the Greasers jump into action to save some children from the inferno. During the chaos they are all burnt and the roof caves in on Johnny. Ponyboy goes back for him, but Dally smacks him on the back and knocks him out. When Pony wakes up, he’s in an ambulance headed for the hospital. In the ambulance is a school teacher who tells Ponyboy that Dally smacked him because his back was on fire and then asks if they are professional heroes. Ponyboy modestly tells him that they are just Greasers. While at the hospital, the Curtis brothers are reunited and Darry starts to cry, shocking Ponyboy, and he realizes that Darry actually does care.
The police and press bombard the brothers with questions in the hospital waiting room. Sodapop jokes around to keep the mood light, and the doctor finally tells them that Dally will be fine, but that Johnny’s back is broken. He admits that even if Johnny survives he will be permanently crippled. They go home and the next morning, Ponyboy is making breakfast when the other Greasers, Steve and Two-bit come in with the paper. The front page has pictures of Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally. The article praises them as heroes for rescuing the children and they also mention Ponyboy’s excellence grades and sports performance. The paper also says that Johnny will be charged with manslaughter, and both Ponyboy and Johnny will be sent to court. Ponyboy worries he will be put in a boy’s home to which the gang reassures him that won’t happen. Ponyboy tells them he had his nightmare last night. He first had it when his parents died and he can never quite remember it. Sodapop and Darry leave for work, and Two-bit offers to look after Ponyboy for the day. Ponyboy protests that he does not need a babysitter, but regardless him and Two-bit spend the day together walking around town. While drinking Coca-Colas at a restaurant, the blue mustang pulls up and they see the Socs that jumped Ponyboy and Johnny in the park. One of the Socs, Randy, talks to Ponyboy and Two-bit promptly reminds him that no fighting is allowed before the rumble. Randy replies that he only wants to talk. Randy asks Ponyboy what made him save the children, and he admits he never though a greaser could be so heroic. Ponyboy replies it has nothing to do with being a greaser, and Randy admits he is not going to be at the rumble.
After the encounter, Two-bit and Ponyboy go to see Johnny and Dally at the hospital. Johnny is in critical condition and when his mother comes to see him Johnny refuses. As Ponyboy and Two-bit leave Johnny’s mother blames the two for his condition, and Two-bit replies with an insult. Dally is recovering well and Ponyboy is starting to feel warmly towards Dally. Dally talks about the rumble and asks for Two-bits prized possession, a black-handled switchblade. Two-bit hands it over without even asking, and the pair leave the hospital. On the way home they see Cherry in her Corvette. She says that the Socs have agreed to the terms of no weapons, and Ponyboy asks her to go see Johnny. She replies that she could never do that, Bob was her boyfriend and Johnny killed him. Ponyboy is angry, but quickly forgives her, and then reminds her that they both see the same sunset.
Ponyboy is not feeling well before the rumble, and has trouble eating dinner. The Greasers come over to prepare for the rumble, and Ponyboy asks them all why they fight. After getting many varied responses, Darry says he doesn’t know if Ponyboy should fight. They convince Darry otherwise and set off for the rumble. At the rumble Darry steps ahead to fight with an old friend. As they circle each other Dally runs in and while Darry is distracted by his entrance, he is punched, starting the rumble. The greasers win and afterwards Dally and Ponyboy go to see Johnny in the hospital. A policeman stops them, and Ponyboy fakes an injury, causing the policeman to escort them. They find Johnny=s room and tell him that they won the rumble. Johnny tells them that fighting is useless. He tells Ponyboy to stay gold, and then Johnny Cade is dead. Dally is stricken with grief and runs frantically from the Hospital.
Ponyboy returns home and tells the other Greasers that Johnny has died and that Dally had a break down. Dally calls them and says he has just robbed a grocery store and is running from the police. The Greasers run out to the empty lot to meet Dally and are just in time to see Dally pull an unloaded gun on the police. The police officers respond by shooting him, and Dally collapses on the ground. Dead. Ponyboy says that Dally wanted to die, and feeling disoriented he passes out. When Ponyboy wakes up, Darry is sitting next to him. Ponyboy learns that he got a concussion from the rumble, and that he has been in bed for the last three days.
Ponyboy stays in bed for the next week despite his own protests, and he find a picture of Bob in Sodapop=s yearbook. Ponyboy wonders about Bob’s parents and remembers conversations with Cherry and Randy. Ponyboy concludes that Bob was a cocky, hot-tempered, boy. Randy arrives at the Curtis home to talk with Ponyboy. Not thinking of what Ponyboy has been through he discusses the court hearing and Ponyboy goes into a delirious state, saying he killed Bob himself and denying Johnny’s death. Darry gets angry and forces Randy to leave.
Ponyboy goes to the court hearing and doesn’t speak much. Since his doctor has advised the judge about his mental state, they don’t even talk about the murder, but instead ask him about his home life. The judge acquits him and Ponyboy returns home with his brothers. Ponyboy becomes depressed and his grades start to slide, Ponyboy=s English teacher tells him that he will pass Ponyboy if he writes a good theme. The next day, Ponyboy goes to a store with Two-bit and Steve during lunch. A group of Socs show up and Ponyboy threatens them with a broken bottle. This worries Steve and Two-bit because Ponyboy would usually never hurt a fly, and they warn Ponyboy not to get tough. They realize he never will though, when Ponyboy starts cleaning up the glass. That night Ponyboy and Darry fight, and Sodapop runs out of the house. The two stop their fighting and run after Sodapop, who tells them that he can’t stand the fighting all the time. He asks them to try and get along. When they promise the will, they return home, Ponyboy opens Johnny’s copy of Gone with the Wind, and he finds a handwritten note from Johnny urging him to stay gold and telling him that those children’s lives were more important than his own. Ponyboy starts his theme with the first line of the book.
The Outsiders Setting
The novel takes place in the 60’s or 70’s because it talks about movies with Paul Newman, and the way the characters dress and act is distinctly the 60’s. Like how the older generations tend to act a bit weird or off to us. Even the younger generation, and this is because attitude and behavior shifts gradually over the years. They even have drive in theaters. There are very few now. The movies are also a 60’s type; Ponyboy describes one as basically girls in bikinis and no real plot. The style is different too; nobody walks around in leather jeans with their hair greased back anymore.
I did a Google search for Windrixville, the only named place in the book. It is in the United States of America, in the state of Oklahoma. It appears, from the map, to be a suburb of the bigger city Tulsa. Possibly during the time of the book Tulsa had not quite swallowed up Windrixville. And since Tulsa is so close it must be the main city in the story. However if there ever was a church it is not there today. Also Google has a marker that says Windrixville, and a line from the book. In street view however, the horizon is also completely flat, so no hills like in the book.
The Outsiders Characterization
Ponyboy Curtis is the main character of the book, in fact in the story he write the book. He is quite a bookworm, studying hard and achieving great marks in school. He is also very athletic, being on the track team and he enjoys sports. He is a bit shorter then normal but has a good build. He has grey-green eyes and light brown-red hair. Johnny describes him as handsome and he is likened to his brother Sodapop. Ponyboy is also very deep and emotional at times.
Sodapop Curtis is described as a Greek god. He is not into school, and dropped out when he was 16. The only classes he was passing were Gym and Shop. He now works at the most popular gas station on their side of town, and Ponyboy admits it is because Sodapop attracts girls like flies to a light. Sodapop’s name suits his personality as he can never sit still and is always energetic.
Darry is the third Curtis brother and has been acting as a guardian for the other two. He loves both dearly and works two jobs to keep them together. He is very well built, when roofing houses as a job he carries to packs of roofing up at a time. Two-Bit says the only thing keeping Darry from being a Social is us.
Dally is the most Areal@ of the Greasers. He spent a few years in new york where he took part in jumping’s. He carries a unloaded gun with him for intimidation and has the most extensive criminal record of the Greasers. Johnny says that Dally is “Gallant” because he once took a prison sentence for Two-Bit, without even denying it. He is also the biggest of the Greasers.
Two-Bit is called Two-Bit because he always has to have his two-bit’s in. He also enjoys shoplifting, his most prized possession, a black handled switch-blade, was obtained through his
“skill”. He is much like Sodapop in the way that he can’t sit still and is always energetic.
Johnny Cade is described as a lost puppy who has been kicked too many times. He is dark skinned with black hair and he often wears dark clothing. His father is a frequent drunk who beats him, and his mother is always yelling. Johnny is as “deep” as Ponyboy is, if not more. He is a hero because he died for some children he didn’t even know, and warned the Greasers not to fight the Socials. Johnny also killed a Social, but it was in self-defense and to save Ponyboy.
Cherry Valance is a “tuff” looking red-head who is very bold, standing up to even Dally. Her and Ponyboy get along well because they both enjoy much the same things. She is Bob’s boyfriend and later in the book she helps the Greasers out by being a “spy” for them.
Bob is the Social who was killed by Johnny. He liked to get drunk and beat up Greasers for no apparent reason, and was famous for 3 heavy rings on his hand which caused deep wounds when he punched somebody. He owns a blue mustang, and Randy says his parents never blamed him for anything. This caused Bob to try and get them to blame him, but no matter what he did they couldn’t.
Randy is another Social. Him and Ponyboy talk late in the book and he says that fighting is no good because Greasers will still be Greasers and Socials will still be Socials. He cause Ponyboy to have a mental breakdown by just bringing up Bob and was then chased away by the Greasers.
The Outsiders Theme, Point of view, and Literary Techniques
The theme in “The Outsiders” is a common one, but very complex too. It has to do with friendship and heroism. The story starts out with explaining to distinct groups of people, the Greasers, and the Socials. Throughout the book are many, many acts of heroism such as the Greasers saving Ponyboy in the beginning, Darry working two jobs to keep him and his brothers together, Johnny saving Ponyboy from certain death at the park, Johnny and Ponyboy saving kids from a burning church, and then Johnny telling the Greasers that it’s useless to fight, just to name a few.
“The Outsiders” is told from a 1st person point of view. Ponyboy is the narrator and he doesn’t know everything about his friends. In fact he even gets things wrong in the beginning of the book and by the end he realizes how wrong he was.