Condemnation by social standards and splits is a tragedy that affects a large population today, and especially has affected adolescents throughout history. SE Hinton describes just that within The Outsiders. Writing the novel as a teenager herself, she creates a very real portrayal of the social division within the two extremes of the elite class and the very bottom of the food chain. Hinton adds color by twisting different uses of imagery, motifs as well as characters within the novel. The Outsiders uses the comparison of sunrises and sunsets, the fates of characters, as well as the ideas inspired by other authors to convey the message through the text.
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Imagery is a key factor of symbolism and themes within the novel. Hinton blatantly describes the social division with the comparison of sunrises and sunsets. Her idea was that the sunrise was a representation of the opportunities that were handed to the “Socs”, the idea was that a new light was entering into a new day. The sunset, on the other hand was given to represent the idea that the light was falling into darkness for the “Greasers”. Ironically, however, Ponyboy Curtis was a sunrise among sunsets within his social group. He had a beautiful mind, and also an air of innocence. He was told to “stay gold…stay gold” (Frost ) in order to remind him that he was above the looming condemnation that destroyed so many others in that side of town.
Hinton uses other character personalities to represent the defeat of the two social groups truly. Cherry Valance was a unique girl, with fiery red hair but that was not the only thing that set her apart from the crowd. Thoughtful and quiet, she is one of the most significant signs of change by her statement of her infatuation with Dally. She was a part of the elite, the typical cheerleader who was dating the average Soc, yet she also reminded Ponyboy who was watching the same sunset (Hinton). Her attitude and view of the split changed and inspired Ponyboy to stand above the fate that was dished out to the greasers.
Hinton critically uses the technique of ‘point of view’ by utilizing the first-person narrative. The author removes himself from the scene and presents to the reader what he has seen or heard. The choice of this technique suits the themes and the concerns that are raised in the novel. For instance, the reader is moved at the onset like Ponyboy mainly because of his honesty and the fact he continually grows to be aware of his life. Ponyboy also captures the speech of the modern youths by his teen-age voice. Ponyboy’s subjective point of view clearly reveals his dislike for the Socs. Having the narration in first-person tends to make the story more immediate for the reader to put themselves in the place of the narrator.
In character analysis, Hinton emphasizes more on the eyes which provide a clear picture of various aspects of their personalities. For instance, the blue and narrow eyes of Darry and Dally show that they are heartless and invulnerable.
The novel “The Outsiders” is a narration of the traumatic duration, in the life of Ponyboy Curtis. The major themes addressed by Hinton include brotherly love, affection, conflict, and coming-to-age. These are tackled in a manner that many youths appreciate. Hinton uses Ponyboy’s literary bent to show that poverty does not imply lack of culture and that sometimes people who belong to a gang group are not obviously delinquent. The story tells us a lot of about the changes that happen in the life of Ponyboy.
The title “The Outsiders” presents the inherent conflict between greasers and Socs (the rich and the poor). Hinton suggests that the social differences between the greasers and Socs should not create natural enmity in the two groups. For instance, the harmonious conversation between Ponyboy Curtis, a greaser and Cherry Valance their mutual vision and passion can help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.