The Outsiders Rumble

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  • 0:04 Fair Fights
  • 1:02 Tension Escalates
  • 1:57 The Day of the Fight
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In this lesson, we'll learn about the rumble in 'The Outsiders' by S.E. Hinton. We'll explore the rules, reasons, and aftermath of this major fight between the Greasers and the Socs.

Fair Fights

''We gotta win that fight tonight,'' Dally said. His voice was hard. ''We gotta get even with the Socs. For Johnny.''

There's no doubt that the Greaser lifestyle is a rough one. Throughout S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders, there are references to violence and fighting. But there is a code of conduct among the Greasers that sets a standard for how and when they fight. Two-Bit explains it to Cherry and Marcia when they meet at the drive-in:

''A fair fight isn't rough,'' Two-Bit said. ''Blades are rough. So are chains and heaters and pool sticks and rumbles. Skin fighting isn't rough. It blows off steam better than anything.''

He further explains that if two Greasers get into it and it's a fair fight, there's no problem. They just need to be careful not to get caught. Greasers from different groups will be there for each other in a rumble against the Socs even if they just finished fighting each other. These rules help the Greasers handle problems within their group while securing their safety in a social setting that often feels like it's them against the world.

Tension Escalates

East-side Greasers versus West-side Socs have become the 'norm' in the city. But after Johnny kills Bob, things escalate between the groups. The Socs band together against the Greasers so effectively that Greasers do not feel safe walking the streets without a weapon.

After Dally comes to Windrixville, Ponyboy and Johnny learn that a rumble, a large-scale fight between rival gangs, is scheduled for the following night in the vacant lot. The vacant lot is the perfect place for a rumble because the people who frequent there know better than to call the police. Cherry and Marcia help the Greasers prepare for the rumble by finding out that there will be no weapons at the rumble.

Meanwhile, Randy (a Soc) talks to Ponyboy about his struggle with the scheduled brawl. He doesn't plan to go because he now realizes, after the loss of his friend Bob, that fighting doesn't solve anything; people just get hurt. Still, another part of him worries about being marked 'a chicken' by the other Socs for not fighting.

The Day of the Fight

Before the rumble, the boys shower and change clothes. The Greasers do cartwheels and backflips, whoop and holler to prepare themselves for the excitement of the big fight. Darry warns Sodapop and Ponyboy to get out of there if the police show because they run the risk of being removed from their home if they get in trouble. Other gangs show up to fight in a display of loyalty among fellow Greasers. In all, there are 20 Greasers fighting 22 Socs.

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