Important Quotes from The Outsiders

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  • 0:04 What Is Theme?
  • 0:29 Gang Violence
  • 2:05 Society and Class
  • 3:29 Identity
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Gangs, fighting, police escape and murder are just some of the big ideas from S.E. Hinton's action-packed novel 'The Outsiders.' In this lesson, you'll learn about some of the important themes and quotes from the novel.

What Is Theme?

Theme can be described as the overall message or idea that the author wants us to take away from a story. The Outsiders tells the story of a teenager named Ponyboy and his struggles with gang violence, poverty, and family conflict. The novel explores each of these themes, as well as themes such as society and class, loyalty, and identity. Examining important quotes from the novel helps us to better understand some of these big ideas.

Gang Violence

''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.''

This quote comes from the beginning of the novel. Ponyboy is describing the relationship between the two rival gangs in his neighborhood: the Greasers, who are poor kids from the East side, and the Socs, who are rich kids from the West side. Ponyboy and his friends are Greasers. The Socs regularly went out of their way to beat up Greasers:

''the Soc . . . shoved my face into the fountain. I fought, but the hand at the back of my neck was strong and I had to hold my breath. I'm dying, I thought, and wondered what was happening to Johnny. I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I fought again desperately but only sucked in water. I'm drowning, I thought, they've gone too far…''

In this scene, Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny, are being attacked in the park by a group of Socs. One of the Socs is trying to drown Ponyboy by holding his head underneath a fountain in the park. To save Ponyboy, Johnny pulls a knife from his back pocket and stabs Ponyboy's attacker to death.

''Soda fought for fun, Steve for hatred, Darry for pride, and Two-Bit for conformity. Why do I fight? I thought, and couldn't think of any real good reason. There isn't any real good reason for fighting except self-defense.''

Toward the end of the novel, the Greasers and the Socs decide to have a huge gang fight, known as a rumble, to settle their differences once and for all. Right before the fight, Ponyboy is observing each member of his gang and thinking of their reasons for fighting. He realizes that, deep down, he doesn't enjoy fighting at all. He doesn't have a good reason to do it, other than because it's what is expected of him.

Society and Class

''We get jumped by the Socs . . . it's the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich kids. It's like the term 'greaser,' which is used to class all us boys on the East-side.''

Ponyboy describes what sets the Socs apart from the Greasers. The Socs are privileged kids with lots of money, nice cars, and fancy clothes. Their affluent lifestyles cause them to look down on the Greasers, who are poor kids from a dangerous neighborhood.

''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.''

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