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The Outsiders Movie Review Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1826 words Published: 20th Jul 2017

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The Outsiders movie is based on a book written by S.E Hinton. The story takes place in Oklahoma in the 1960’s. It is about two gangs or social classes named the ‘greasers’ and the ‘socs’. The greasers are the poor ones who live on the east side of town and the socs are the rich ones living on the west side of town. The socs enjoy going to the east side to beat up greasers. The main character is Ponyboy Curtis, an orphan living with his two older brothers. One night, after a fight at home Ponyboy and his friend Johnny Cade who also has problems at home, run away. Rising action of the movie is when the two boys spend the night at the park and get in a fight with some of the socs. The socs wanted to teach the boys a lesson because earlier that night they allowed themselves to go out with two soc girls. One of them was Sherry Valance goes to the same school as Ponyboy and is Bob Sheldon’s girlfriend. Johnny stabs Bob to death as he was trying to drown Ponyboy in a fountain. They run away and hide in an old church away from town. Climax of the story is when the church sets on fire during a school visit and some children become trapped inside. Ponyboy, Johnny and Dallas Winston (Dally), a friend who came visit the two boys, run into the church to save the children. They in turn become heroes with their pictures spread all over the newspapers. Falling action of the story involves Johnny staying in the hospital because of his broken spine and severe burns. Also, after juvenile trials Ponyboy and Johnny are declared as not guilty of the crime and Ponyboy is allowed to stay in custody of his oldest brother Darry Curtis. However, the two gangs didn’t want to let their arguments rest until they fought a fair fight. So they arranged for a rumble which the greasers won. In the denouement, Ponyboy and Dally go to the hospital to inform Johnny of the good news. Apparently Johnny dies during the visit. Out of anger and grief Dally robs a store and forces the police to shoot him down when he refuses to turn himself in. Ponyboy finds a note that Johnny wrote him before his death.

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The most obvious conflict in The Outsiders is the conflict between the two different social groups, a class versus class conflict. Greasers are poor and many of them have to drop out of school to help financing their families. Whereas the socs are rich kids with expensive cars and receive education with no worries. The gap between the two classes makes the socs look at the greasers as ‘trash’ of the society. The class versus class conflict gives rise to a physical conflict between the socs and the greasers. Throughout the story there are physical fights between the two groups. Socs mainly do it for fun and also to prove to themselves that they are better and stronger than the greasers. There are two other conflicts in the story both in which Ponyboy is involved. Ponyboy appears to be in conflict with himself. At the beginning of the story Ponyboy is on his way home from the movies. He is spotted by a group of socs who chase him and beat him up. Ponyboy is well aware of the conflicts between the greasers and the socs and knows the danger of walking home on his own, but he still does so because he struggling to accept the hard life he is forced to live. He thinks it is unfair that he has to worry about simple things like going home from the movie when the socs can live their life the way they want to without any restrictions or worries. Moreover, Ponyboy likes literature and nature which is odd for a normal greaser. He struggles to reveal himself in front of others, because he knows they wouldn’t understand him. The other conflict would be Ponyboy versus life or circumstances.

Ponyboy’s parents passed away in a car crash. Since then he has been in custody of his oldest brother Darry. He always compared Darry’s actions with those of his parents. He thought if his parents were alive he would be better off with them because Darry was too strict. Ponyboy also interpreted Darry’s strictness as hate. He felt it was unfair for him to have a brother who only yells at him and tells him what to do. He also felt life was unfair towards his other brother Sodapop who had dropped out of school to work at a gas station in order to help financing their family.

The Outsiders discusses a variety of themes. The first and major theme is the gap between the different social classes, particularly the gap between the rich and the poor. The story shows that the rich take advantage of their authority. They look down to greasers and see no value in them. They look at themselves as the better part of the society, hence they allow themselves to do whatever they want. But greasers have limitations. They can only defend themselves, they could never allow themselves to start a fight with the socs because they would not get away with it like the socs do. When Ponyboy and Johnny were having a walk with Sherry and her friend, Bob and his friend Randy show up and demand that the girls leave with them instantly. Sherry asks Ponyboy not to take it personal if she does not say hello at school. This incident, on the other hand, implies that socs may also have restricted actions due to the large gap between them and the greasers. Sherry fears of losing respect of other socs if she talks to a greaser at school. The restriction or limitation that the gap has placed on Sherry might appear not be as significant as the one placed on the greasers. Still, it is of great matter because it shows that problems between the socs and the greasers have an effect on both groups. The second theme is about bravery. The Outsiders makes a valued point with this theme, which is that bravery is not about what class you belong to. Bravery is more about individualism. After the fire, when Ponyboy was in the ambulance car and told the teacher accompanying him to the hospital that he was a greaser, the man was surprised and wouldn’t really believe him. This emphasizes that the society judges the greasers and views them as uncivilized people. The society would have never expected such brave action from a greaser. Another vey important theme would be the appreciation of family. Before the death of Bob, there was not much harmony between Ponyboy and his brothers. Darry was nearly always giving Ponyboy orders or shouting at him, which upset Ponyboy. Sodapop was torn between the two sides. When Ponyboy ran away with Johnny, the brothers learned to appreciate each other, especially Darry and Ponyboy. Ponyboy finally understood that Darry loves him and Darry learned that he should just change the way he treats Ponyboy so they could have a better life. The last theme would be the changes one undergoes during adolescence. Ponyboy matured throughout the story becoming more wise, understanding and less judging. After recollecting his conversation with Sherry and her actions, Bob’s death and a conversation with Randy, Ponyboy realizes that socs have different sides too. They could be good people too.

Ponyboy is the narrator and the main character of the story. He is a dynamic character and develops in a number of ways. Ponyboy is a greaser like his brothers and his friends, but also differs from them in many ways. Ponyboy is dreamy and innocent when compared to most greasers. He is not as tough and experienced as the others. Despite the fact that he is poor and the environment he lives in is quite uncivilized, Ponyboy is a good student and also interested in literature, nature and movies. Ponyboy knows that this isn’t normal for a greaser, so he keeps his thoughts mainly to himself. Sometimes however he shares them with his brother Sodapop because he does not judge him and tries to be understanding of Ponyboy’s different side. When Ponyboy ran away with Johnny to hide at the church, he used to read to Johnny “Gone with the wind”. Also, once while watching a sunrise with Johnny, Ponyboy cited a few lines from the poem ‘Nothing Gold can stay’ by Robert Frost. Johnny was amazed by the lines and Ponyboy learned that Johnny had a different side too. He could understand literature and was appreciative of the beauty of nature like Ponyboy was. This encouraged him to open up and reveal himself to Johnny.

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Throughout the story Ponyboy becomes more experienced, mature and understanding. He learns too look at the full picture and not take things only from his point of view. When Dallas went to visit Ponyboy and Johnny in the church, his brothers send him a note telling him how much they miss him and that they want him back home. It is then when Ponyboy realizes that Darry’s strictness comes out of love. He learns to understand that Darry loves him and that he fears that through any mistakes or misbehavior Ponyboy is might taken away from him and put into boys home. Ponyboy learns also not to be one-sided and not to judge people by what group they belong to. When Ponyboy goes back to town, he gets in a conversation with Randy. Randy tells him that he thinks his actions are brave and heroic and that he wouldn’t have saved the children in the burning church. Ponyboy also gets to know from Randy that he grieves over Bob’s death and that he regrets what happened, and that he is tired of the on-going conflict between socs and greasers. For the fist time Ponyboy looks at Randy as a normal guy and not as a soc. Ponyboy realizes that socs are not just sophisticated and materialistic people, they too have problems in their lives that seem almost perfect. When Sherri testified in the trials saying that Bob was the one looking for a fight with Ponyboy and Johnny, and decided work as a spy for the greasers bringing them information about the soc’s plans for the rumble, Ponyboy comes to understand that not all socs are the same, not all socs are for injustice. Ponyboy also realizes, with the help of Johnny, that he has other options than the rest of the greasers. Johnny left Ponyboy a note, in which he told him to “stay gold”, like in Robert Frost’s poem. Johnny wanted Ponyboy to realize that there is much more to life than just the conflict between the greasers and the socs. By telling Ponyboy to “stay gold”, Johnny wanted Ponyboy to stay innocent and pure, and not let the problems with the socs make him tough, aggressive, and careless like most of the greasers. This made Ponyboy accept himself and the fact that he is different from others.

To conclude, the story of The Outsiders has good content, even though it is an older one. I think its themes and conflicts are highly valuable as they still address many of the issues in today’s world. It would be a good movie for the young people to watch because there are definitely things they could learn from the movie.


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