Comparison Analysis: Stereotyping in “The Outsiders”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. We use this metaphor when someone judges someone else just by their looks. This is called stereotyping, which is a great problem in today’s society. It puts labels on how a person should act or live according to their gender, race, personality, and other facts. In “The Outsiders” this is also a grave issue. Socials, also called Socs are the jet set West-side rich kids who can always get away with a black eye because of their wealth. In the meantime, the Greasers are the East-side kids who live on the poor side of town and are known for their greasy long hair.
There are three strong consequences of Stereotyping in this book: violence, inferiority complex and the breakup of relationships. First of all, violence is a consequence of stereotyping. “The Outsiders” consists of violence through and through.” Greasers can’t walk alone too much, or they’ll get jumped, or someone will come by and scream ‘Greaser!’ at them which doesn’t make you feel too hot if you know what I mean.” (Hinton 4) Already in the beginning of the book Ponyboy gets jumped by Socs as he walks home which is a clear act of physical violence. Such behavior is the result of the influence that the thinking of the upper-class stereotypical society has on the Socs. Their assumption is that if you see people with greasy long hair and cheap clothes, you jump them. But why do the Socs jump the Greasers in the first place? Why do they have the feeling that it’s okay to beat them up without any specific reasons?
That’s because the stereotyping triggers the legitimization of violence towards the stereotyped group which is in this case are the Greasers. With the number of violent acts in this book we can see that violence is inevitable. Both rival gangs must prove their strength and power by simply fighting each other which we can clearly see at the rumble. Finally, violence is a big issue in “The Outsiders” and is clearly a result of stereotyping. Secondly, inferiority complex is also a repercussion of stereotyping. Inferiority complex is when someone feels that they are of less worth or importance than other people. In this book, the Greasers feel less valued than the rest of the Society. The stereotyping limits the expectations that the Greasers have of their lives. For example, not going to college and not receiving a full education. If the Greasers also get trapped into this thinking, they unconsciously let the stereotypical people tell them what to do and what not to do.
The Greasers are somehow convinced that such is the life for them. They don’t expect anything better. You may see that in this paraphrase: “Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.” (Hinton 4) Greasers may actually do these things but partly because everybody else around them expects them to. The more people judge you with prejudices the more you become like that. Most of the Greasers drop out of high school and don’t go to college, because they believe they’re not supposed to have a great education based on the prejudices which govern them. The Greasers lose their sense of belonging in society and accept their inferior status. This proves how stereotyping can result in inferiority complex for the Greasers. Finally, another consequence of stereotyping in this book is how this can have an impact on relationships.
A good example is Darell Curtis, also called Darry. Behind this strong, tuff-looking, and fearless man there is someone who just wants to have a normal life, who wants to be able to finish high school and eventually go to college, but he had to drop out to take care of his family after his parents died. He is smart and athletic which earned him the scholarship for a great college, but he had to give all that up. Because of the strong stereotypes associated with not being able to complete education, Darry unwillingly fell into the category of Greasers when he could actually have belonged to the Socs. This also led to the breakup of Paul and Darry’s friendship. They were good friends and used to go to school together but since Paul was and still is a Soc, their friendship fell apart. At the rumble, Ponyboy notices the hatred and jealousy in Darry’s look towards his former friend, Paul. Paul looks down on Darry as he is representing the Greasers which in Ponyboy’s observations, Darry himself is ashamed of. This shows how stereotyping can have negative effect on relationships and degrade someone’s worth in society.
In conclusion, we can see that stereotyping can lead to violence, cause inferiority complex in the people who are stereotyped, and have a negative impact on relationships. All this can cause an imbalance in society. But if people would treat others without any preconceived notions the society would become much more balanced and would not turn people against each other.
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