The Outsiders, written by S. E Hinton and published in 1967, is a novel that centers on issues of the past that are still very much present in the current historical climate. The story interestingly revolves around the rivalry between two gangs who are divided mainly because of their social and economical status. The first group, "the greasers", are the working-class people, while the second group, "the socs", (short for "socials") are those in the upper class (Muñoz, 2017). The Outsiders is a story told by the young protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis. The story was set in 1965 Tulsa, Oklahoma, and, because of its current reference to the social state of the present world, has been also adapted into a movie that was later extended into a TV series in 1990.
In this article, our focus will be on The Outsiders: Ponyboy Curtis; we'll be particularly examining the major character and narrator of the novel, Ponyboy Curtis, and the significance of him presenting the story to the readers solely from his own experience and perspective.
Ponyboy, or pony, is a 14-year-old member of the greaser gang (that is, the working class people). He lives with his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop in the lower class section of Tulsa, Oklahoma (where the narration of the whole story is mostly set in). Pony and Sodapop are both raised by their oldest brother, Darry, who instantly takes up the parenting responsibility after their parents die in a fatal motor accident.
As the story progresses, we begin to see Darry as a completely inexperienced parent and this is one of the major conflicts Ponyboy had to deal with during the course of the story. Another conflict Pony was confronted with was the fact that he and his brothers are greasers who had to be faced with frequent abuse and harassment from the upper class, the Socs on the west side of Tulsa (Wistisen, 2020):
"Greasers can't walk alone too much or they'll get jumped, or someone will come by and scream "Greaser!" at them… We get jumped by the Socs. I'm not sure how you spell it, but it's the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich kids. It's like the term "greaser," which is used to class all us boys on the East Side." (Hinton, 1967).
Pony is an intelligent child, he makes good grades in school and has wonderful athletic ability. However, he runs around with the local gang and doesn't think deeply, which puts him in a lot of trouble virtually every time. He's the youngest member of the gang. He's not only young; he also has a relatively small stature for his age. Pony has greenish-gray eyes and light brown hair, and an athletic physique which puts him in a better posture for fights with his age mates, despite his relatively small size. Pony is usually described as a carbon copy of his older brother Sodapop, although he strongly disagrees with this. In contrast to his fellow greasers, Pony loves to go to the movies all by himself. He also enjoys peace and quiet and loves to enjoy the comfort of the sunset. Pony is described as a quiet being; he hardly talks and only confides in some members of his greaser gang, as well as Cherry Valance (who describes Ponyboy as a compassionate and ambitious fellow
As the story develops, we get to also go along with the narrator as he matures over the year; from someone who initially detests the Socs, to someone who grows to admire them, in away. Ponyboy is the narrator of The Outsiders; it is from his point of view that we're able to experience and understand the established estate of the society at that time (as well as now). We're also able to understand the differences that exist between the lower, working-class, and those on the upper echelon.
It is through Ponyboy's introspective eyes that we are able to see the characters in the novel. All events and experiences in the story are centered on him, how he grows from great detest to compassion and humanity for the other side, the Socs. For Pony, his narration of the story forms his catharsis. We are able to gradually notice the development in Pony's character, especially the changes he begins to exhibit as the story develops. The readers are also able to see the common adolescent issues he's faced with as the story develops. In understanding, because we can only see from his own perspective alone, we are also able to sympathize with him — from the death of his parents to his family's permanent membership in the lower echelon of the Oklahoma society.
In all, The Outsiders is not only a story that narrates the rivalry between two gangs, but it also recounts the development of Ponyboy Curtis, the major character of the story.
This essay, The Outsiders: Ponyboy Curtis, has been able to explain how Hintin was able to demonstrate the significance of the character, Ponyboy, in the story. As readers, we must now fully understand that it is through the development of Pony that we're able to understand the class system of the then and now society, the differences in humanity and the individual experiences or viewpoints of every person, despite the identity or social classifications that exist in society.
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