The Outsiders: Character Analysis of Ponyboy Curtis
Can there ever be a balance between conformity and individuality? Can a society ever be perfect in which all minorities get along? In a society, where greasers and socs live that is not possible. Ponyboy, the youngest of the Curtis brothers, has a hard time coping up with social stress. In his neighborhood, Socs will always be at the top with lots of money, and Greasers will always be at the bottom with little money. No matter what happens, this will always be the case; and Ponyboy is having a hard time to accept that. Ponyboy is part of a gang; the Greasers. It includes him, Sodapop, Darry, two-bit Mathews, Dally, Johnny, and Steve Randle. Ponyboy’s two older brothers are Sodapop and Darry. One of the conflicts with Ponyboy is that he thinks Darry will never love him. Darry is always giving Ponyboy a hard time whether it is school or sports. He was never pleased. “Me and Darry just didn’t dig each other. I never could please him. He would have hollered at me for carrying a blade if I had carried one. If I brought home B’s, he wanted A’s, and if I got A’s, he wanted to make sure they stayed A’s. If I was playing football, I should be studying inside, and if I was reading, I should be out playing football. He never hollered at Sodapop-not even when Soda dropped out of school or got tickets for speeding. He just hollered at me”. Ponyboy also tries to display a hidden message throughout the novel by showing that even though the social classes of greaser and socs are very different, there are similarities that both social groups undergo in their day-to-day lives. “It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset”. One main idea in this story is that there should be a line between individuality and conformity as characters such as Ponyboy should stay true to themselves so that they don’t end up like Dally; who became a hood and a greaser by following people who were greasers around him. Characters like Johnny and Ponyboy should keep a special identity, which makes them unique from the rest. They shouldn’t always follow what others are doing because sometimes it might be wrong. Ponyboy and Cherry are the outsiders from their groups and society; while Dally and Tim Shepard are true stereotype Greasers and will be hoods for the rest of their lives.
There should be a line between individuality and conformity as characters such as Ponyboy should stay true to themselves so that they don’t end up like Dally; who became a hood and a greaser by following people who were greasers around him. Dally became a criminal at the age of ten because he started to follow the bad ways of the other people he was surrounded by. They set a bad example for him and he started to follow their ways and become like them. “Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten. He was tougher than the rest of us tougher, colder, meaner.” This quote shows that Dally would continue to pursue his bad ways throughout the rest of his life just because of the violence he grew up around. At this point, Dally should have been able to keep his individuality and not follow his group rules. Ponyboy should preserve his individuality and do what he thinks is right or wrong, not what others think is best. “The term also applies to human behavior, and it usually describes large numbers of people acting the same way at the same time. It often has a connotation of irrationality, as people’s actions are driven by emotion rather than by thinking through a situation.” Ponyboy should not follow herd behavior of others, but rather think logically of what to do. People should stay true to themselves while also being law-abiding and loyal to their rules at the same time.
Characters like Johnny and Ponyboy should keep a special identity, which makes them unique from the rest. They shouldn’t always follow what others are doing because sometimes it might be wrong. At the start of the novel, Ponyboy is a dedicated greaser even though he knows that certain aspects of his personality makes him different from the rest of the gang. For example, he likes to read books in his gang and no one else seems to have an interest. ” Soda, who is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, never cracks a book at all, and my oldest brother, Darrel, who we call Darry, works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture, so I’m not like them.”The gang provides Ponyboy with a sense of safety showing like they always got is back. For example, when Ponyboy was jumped at the beginning of the book, the gang came to save. So Ponyboy wants to stick to his gang’s code of conduct to show his loyalty. However, this limits Ponyboy from expressing who he is as an individual. But the events surrounding Bob’s death cause Ponyboy to think more deeply about expressing who he really is, and his conversations with Johnny, Cherry, and Randy lead him to reflect on whether to show who he truly is as an individual. He begins to question and compare the reasons for conflict throughout the everyday lives of socs and greasers, and he thinks hard about the decision to participate in the rumble. Ponyboy’s willingness to interact with Socs signals the development of him progressing to a goal. A goal to show the real person who he is. Over time, he begins to question the ways of Greaser society and life. In a similar story “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, the main character Andy starts to wonder if he was described as Andy, or just another Royal. At the end of the story, he tries to take off his Royal’s jacket to show that he is true to himself and not some other Royal. “If he died, he was Andy. He was not a Royal. He was simply Andy, and he was dead. Had the Guardian who knifed him ever once known that he was Andy? Had they stabbed him, Andy, or stabbed only the jacket and the title? What good was the title if you were dying?”. This quote shows that Andy was wondering if he was just a Royal or Andy. It shows him wondering if he was an individual or just another Royal. A special identity is important to have because it expresses who you truly are.
Ponyboy and Cherry are the outsiders from their groups and society; while Dally and Tim Shepard are true stereotype Greasers and will be hoods for the rest of their lives. Cherry and Ponyboy are outsiders from their groups because they don’t follow the typical stereotype ways of their groups. Both of them have some individual traits that make them who they are. “It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset”. Cherry Valance’s main conflict throughout the story is that if she is a soc or not. Cherry has always been apart of the soc group for years however she has been spying on them for the Greasers. She is an outsider of society because she is not apart of any group at all. “You’re a traitor to your own kind and not loyal to us.” Ponyboy is an outsider because he is very different from his own group. He is smart unlike most of the greasers who are hoods. He likes books and studying, that no Greasers digs. “The term also applies to human behavior, and it usually describes large numbers of people acting the same way at the same time. It often has a connotation of irrationality, as people’s actions are driven by emotion rather than by thinking through a situation.”He is not stereotypical, and express some of his individuality. He doesn’t follow everyone like Herd Behavior and thinks logically. He is not like Dally who is the perfect example of a greaser or hood. Dally gave his life as an example to explain this to Ponyboy. Be true to yourself.
Ponyboy, Cherry and other characters in the novel have tried to express their individuality throughout their stories. They have set a line between Individuality and conformity on which to follow at certain times. They are outsiders to society as they are nothing like their social classes. The Characters experiences teach the readers to be true to themselves. The author might want to teach the readers that even though things can look different, they are very much the same indeed. In a way, they can say looks are deceiving.
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Can there ever be a balance between conformity and individuality? Can a society ever be perfect in which all minorities get along? In a society, where greasers and socs live […]