Personification in The Outsiders

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  • 0:03 Personification in…
  • 0:28 Eyes & Uncomfortable Clothing
  • 1:40 Serenity & Dally's Death
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

Personification is used by S.E. Hinton in 'The Outsiders' to make her sentences more engaging and interesting for the reader. Personification is one literary device that can be used to help readers visualize the scene.

Personification in The Outsiders

Have you ever wanted to describe something, but couldn't quite find the words? Sometime, authors, like S.E. Hinton, use figurative language, like personification, to give the reader a greater sense of being part of the action. Personification is assigning human attributes to things that are not people. Let's look at some examples of personification from The Outsiders.

Eyes & Uncomfortable Clothing

Eyes are a big thing to the narrator, Ponyboy. He spends a good amount of time describing eyes and tends to apply stereotypes to eye color. Generally, he prefers and trusts people who have black or grey eyes. Blue eyes indicate a lack of warmth and caring. When describing Dally's eyes, he personifies them by giving them the ability to hate. 'His eyes were blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world.' By contrast, everyone's favorite pet, Johnny's dark eyes are given the ability to speak when Johnny gets excited about joining the high-class, Soc girls, Cherry and Marcia at the drive-in: 'Would we ever have something to tell the boys! his eyes said plainly.'

Personification brings life to Ponyboy's misery when he regains consciousness after the Socs try to drown him in the park fountain. Cold wind through wet clothes has a volatile effect on Ponyboy as exemplified through this example of personification, 'The wind blasted through my soaked sweat shirt and dripping hair.' When Dally gives him a change of clothes, the shirt takes on human characteristics when it is so large on him that he feels as if he is being consumed by it. 'I started buttoning up the shirt. It about swallowed me.'

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