“You really killed him huh, Johnny?”
“Yeah.” His voice quavered slightly. “I had to. They were drowning you, Pony. They might have killed you. And they had a blade…they were gonna beat me up….”
“Like…”–I swallowed–“like they did before?”
Johnny was quiet for a minute. “Yeah,” he said, “like they did before.”
Johnny told em what had happened: “They ran when I stabbed him. They all ran…”
A panic was rising in me as I listened to Johnny’s quiet voice go on and on. “Johnny!” I nearly screamed. “What are we gonna do? They put you in the electric chair for killing people!” I was shaking. I want a cigarette. I want a cigarette. I want a cigarette. We had smoked our last pack. “I’m scared, Johnny. What are we gonna do?”
In Ponyboy Curtis’s world there are two types of people: greasers and socs. Socs, short for “socials”, drive expensive cars and get away with everything. The greasers, like Pony, have to watch their backs and never travel alone. When Pony’s best friend Johnny kills a soc, Pony’s world is turned upside down and he begins to realize that greaser or soc, pain feels the same.
This is one of my favorite books. It’s almost too bad that it’s studied in schools, because that tends to taint books for a lot of teens.
I love the characters in this book. It’s funny, because they’re the type of kids that I would probably shy away from and be afraid of if I were walking down the street, but reading about their lives I can connect with them. They do bad things, but they are still human. The relationship between Ponyboy and his brothers and the other greasers in his gang are real, loving relationships, family without being family. It redeems them somehow.
This story has the same feel as West Side Story–two gangs of people who are different and therefore enemies. And it takes death to wake any of them up, though it doesn’t necessarily change the way things are. But just like Ponyboy and a couple other characters start to think, the reader is given the opportunity to think about all the differences that stand between people and whether or not it’s really important. I think that’s probably part of what S. E. Hinton hoped to get across in writing this book. Of her high school years, she said: “The whole status thing drove me nuts. It drove me nuts that people would get worked up over who they should and should not talk to in the hall.”
*news about the outsiders*
Fun fact: S. E. Hinton was 16 when The Outsiders was published in 1967.
S. E. Hinton on the web: http://www.sehinton.com
Read the book & want to talk about your favorite scenes? Add your comments on my Book Discussion page.