Metaphors in The Outsiders

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In ''The Outsiders'', S.E. Hinton uses a great deal of figurative language to engage the reader. In this lesson, we will look at how metaphors are used to describe people, places, and events.

Colorful Word Choices

Metaphors are an example of the colorful language that S.E. Hinton uses in The Outsiders to draw the reader visually into the text. Metaphors compare two things that are not alike, drawing attention to a descriptive commonality. In this lesson, we will look more closely at some of the metaphors used in The Outsiders.

Sometimes Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes, metaphors are necessary when there are no other words to describe the extent of something. When Ponyboy and Cherry explain how beautiful Sodapop is, Ponyboy says, 'Soda's movie-star kind of handsome,' while Cherry says that Ponyboy's 'brother is one doll.' In reality, Soda is a high school drop-out that works at a gas station and hangs out with a bunch of greasers, but his looks are so strikingly handsome that he is compared to a movie-star and a doll.

Ponyboy also uses a metaphor when he describes Dally, saying he has 'sharp animal teeth.' That doesn't mean he has fangs like a tiger, but his teeth are likely more pointed than average, adding to his already animalistic tendencies. There are other times when Dally is compared to an animal, such as saying, 'he grinned wolfishly,' when Dally told him about lying to the police about Johnny and Ponyboy's location. Tim Shepard, who is a hoodlum like Dally, 'had the tense, hungry look of an alley cat--- that's what he's always reminded me of, an alley cat-- and he was constantly restless.'

Beautiful Scenery

From the back of the church, Ponyboy could see, 'the ribbon of highway and the small dots that were houses and cars.' There are no ribbons and dots outside the church, but the metaphor is used to describe the long, flowing curves of the road with homes and cars so far in the distance that they look like little dots.

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