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Author: S.E. Hinton Character Analysis: Ponyboy Curtis –
Ponyboy is a fourteen-year-old member of a gang called the
Greasers. His parents died in a car accident, so he lives alone
with his two older brothers, Darry and Soda. He is a good
student and athlete, but most people at school consider him a
vagrant like his Greaser friends. Sodapop Curtis – Soda is
Pony’s handsome, charming older brother. He dropped out of
school to work at a gas station, and does not share his
brothers’ interest in studying and sports. Darrel Curtis – The
oldest of the Curtis boys, Darry is also the acknowledged
leader of the Greasers. Johnny Cade – Johnny is Pony’s
closest friend and the gang’s pet. They are especially
protective of him since he is smaller than the rest, his father
beats him, and he is afraid to walk the streets alone after being
attacked by a group of Socs. Cherry Valance – Cherry is from
the richer part of town and associates mainly with the Socs,
but she befriends Pony and the other Greasers and gives them
information about the Socs. Bob Gardner – Bob is Cherry’s
boyfriend. Johnny murders Bob to stop him from killing
Pony. Dallas Winston – A member of the Greasers, Dally has
spent time in prison. He helps Johnny and Pony by telling
them to go to Jay Mountain to hide out and by giving them
money. Two-Bit Mathews – The Greasers’ oldest member. He
acts like a mentor or mascot to the Greasers. Steve Randle –
Soda’s best friend and another member of the Greasers.

Summary: The Outsiders is a coming-of-age story about a
group of boys engaged in a dangerous feud with the wealthier
residents of their town. The narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, is a
teenager who lives alone with his two brothers. He is
interested in academics and sports, but does not receive the
same respect and treatment granted to the wealthier kids, who
belong to a different gang called the Socs. Pony has long hair,
which he greases; he knows that people consider him a
juvenile delinquent based on his appearance. Pony is not
content with his situation; he worries that his brother does not
want to take care of him and constantly fears attacks by the
Socs. Things get much worse, however, when he and his
friend Johnny go to a park late at night. The Socs attack them
there and dunk Pony’s head in a fountain, long enough to
make him unconscious and almost drown him. When he
wakes up, he realizes that one of the Socs is dead, and that
Johnny killed him. The two boys run away with the help of
their friend Dally, who tells them to go to an abandoned
church on Jay Mountain. They hide out for a week, and then
Dally comes to find them. Johnny wants to go back to turn
himself in, but as they head back to the church they see that it
has caught fire. A group of schoolchildren is there on a field
trip, and a few of the children remain locked inside the burning
church. Pony and Johnny break the window and rescue the
children as the fire spreads. Pony is able to climb back out,
but Johnny is hit with a piece of falling timber and burned
severely. The boys are written up as heroes in the newspaper,
even though they are still wanted for murder. Johnny is badly
injured and will never walk again, if he lives. Meanwhile the
Greasers are scheduled to fight the Socs. The Greasers win
the fight, and Dally and Pony go to the hospital to tell Johnny
the good news. He dies during their visit. Dally runs off
heatedly, and later calls Pony’s house to say that he has
robbed a store and is being chased by the police. They go to
meet him, but watch him pull a gun on the cops and fall back
and die as they fire at him. Pony moves on with his life, after
being acquitted in the Soc’s murder case. He is never the
same, however, and the memories of past events still haunt
him. Finally, as an assignment for English class, he writes
down the story of what happened. Final Analysis: The
Outsiders is a story of rebellion, youth, and heroism. It
focuses on an endless, senseless conflict between two groups
of young people and the problems that result. Its main
character, Ponyboy, watches his world slowly fall apart as the
battle between the groups rages around him. The use of a
first-person narrator gives the reader a sense of belonging to
the greasers, encouraging sympathy for their struggle.

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Ponyboy is a strong, sensitive, intelligent young person who
cares very deeply about his friends and brothers. He often
faces danger, and what he wants most is a sense of security
and stability. Instead, events spiral towards an inevitable
tragedy, and Ponyboy must accept his own powerlessness.

The Greasers are young men who refuse to accept the
subordinate position that society has given them. The Socs
mock the Greasers and the adults in town overlook them:
rather than accept their status and live in peace with the
wealthier citizens of town, the Greasers seek respect and
rebellion. They are proud, strong-willed people who know
they deserve better. The result is a life of constant conflict and
ever-present danger. At the end of The Outsiders, Pony is
transformed from greaser into a writer. He learns to express
his resentment and anger through more creative means, no
longer resorting to violence. He is able to share his story with
an authority figure, his English teacher, who does not belong
to his crowd. The universal message of The Outsiders is that
peace can come through understanding, communication, and a
willingness to move beyond violence to resolve conflicts.
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