The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy and his two
brothers — Darrel and Sodapop — live together on the East Side. They recently lost their
parents in an automobile accident, so Darrel is their legal guardian. The boys are
greasers, a class term that refers to the men on the East Side, the poor side of town. The
greasers’ rivals are the Socs, short for Socials, who are the “West-side rich kids.” His
neighborhood gets watched by bullying Socs. The novel starts with Ponyboy walking out of
the movie theater, alone, towards home. If it’s something the Socs love, it’s a defenseless
greaser. So they attack him. This greaser group of seven is less organized and less
dangerous than the other (greaser) gangs. This makes Ponyboy realize that his own gang
is a little more than a group of friends fighting to survive.
Ponyboy is a fourteen year old greaser. He gets good grades in school and is also quite a
good athlete but hangs out with the local hoods. He is the youngest of the greaser gang.
Ponyboy has light-brown hair and greenish-gray eyes.
Johnny is a sixteen year old greaser. He’s smaller than the rest of the group. Johnny gets
physically and verbally abused by his parents. Johnny has black eyes and a darkly tanned
Darrel “Darry” Shaynne Curtis Jr.
The oldest of the three Curtis brothers and the man of the house ever since their parents
died. Ponyboy describes him as a young man who grew up too fast. Darry loves his
brothers but has a weird way of showing it. This is only because he doesn’t want to lose
them to a boy’s home. Darry is very intelligent and athletic.
Sodapop Patrick Curtis
He is the middle Curtis boy. A dropout at sixteen-years, who works at the local gas station
with his best buddy, Steve. He is “movie star handsome” and has silky dark hair. He is
idolized by his younger brother, Ponyboy.
Dallas “Dally” Winston
Dally was hardened because of his childhood. His father treated him bad and got arrested
at the young age of ten. He is mean to many people, but it is shown that he cares for his
gang and treats them like family. Dallas has “almost white-blond hair and blazing blue
Poetry plays a big role in ‘The Outsiders’. When Ponyboy and Johnny are watching the
sunrise, while they are hiding out in the church in Windrixville, Ponyboy recites the short
poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay
– Robert Frost
After the greasers win at the big rumble from the Socials, Dallas and Ponyboy hurry to the
hospital to tell Johnny. Johnny is dying and whispers into Pony’s ear “Stay Gold”.
The poem mirrors the boys’ loss of innocence in their disturbing involvement as Greasers.
After the murder, the boys completely change.
This is an important moment for Ponyboy. He shares his perception on the natural world.
This helps us understand how hard it was for Ponyboy to deal with Johnny’s death. He
was one of the few people who really understood Pony.
While they were hiding in the church they spent their time reading ‘Gone with the Wind’,
smoking and eating sandwiches. Johnny bought the book for Pony because he
remembers Ponyboy saying he always wanted to read it. This shows how generous and
mindful Johnny is. This is a sign of true friendship.
Ponyboy reads the novel loudly while they are hiding out in the church. The boys discuss
the themes and characters. One of the themes is the American civil war. This symbolizes
the two gangs in The Outsiders. The male character’s in ‘Gone with the Wind’ are
gentlemen and heroes.
Ponyboy and Johnny also become heroes after saving the children from the burning
church. Their conversation of behaving like the southern gentleman from the book might
make them feel more heroic during and after their deed. The southern gentlemen
described in ‘Gone with the Wind’ symbolize Ponyboy and Johnny, because of their heroic
Johnny left something behind for Pony. He tucked a letter into Ponyboy’s copy.
“Listen I don’t mind dying now. It’s worth it. It’s worth saving their kids. Their lives are worth
more than mine, they have more to live for. Some of their parents came by to tank me and
I know it was worth it”.
So Ponyboy decides to not finish the novel. It would be a betrayal. The unfinished novel
symbolizes Johnny’s unfinished life.
But on the bright side, the letter inspires Ponyboy to write. To write and maybe change the
lives of others.