Violence in the Outsiders
In 2015, Elizabeth Thornton surveyed people to figure out how often people misjudge others based on appearances. Thornton’s survey shows that seventy-five percent of people will misjudge one other person per month. In S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, greasers are being misjudged by Socials constantly. Many Socials are considered snobbish and unkind. First, Cherry Valance, a Soc, gains the trust of the greasers and ignores the standards set in her social class. To continue, Ponyboy Curtis thinks Randy Adderson is like any other Soc. However, his friend’s death changes Randy’s perspective. Lastly, Dallas Winston, a greaser, is known for his violent, crude, and impulsive behavior. On the contrary, when Dally is with Johnny, Dally unintentionally demonstrates his softer and kinder side. In The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton utilizes character traits to demonstrate that the theme of The Outsiders is to not prejudge the worth or characteristics of someone based on their social class or outward appearance.
To begin, almost all the Socials either despise the greasers or find them to be low-life hoodlums. However, Cherry Valance ignores her social class’s traits and helps the greasers during the rumble of Socs versus greasers. Dally tells Ponyboy and Johnny Cade, “I didn’t tell you we got a spy… that good-lookin’ broad… The redhead, Cherry what’s-her-name” (84). Cherry continuously helps the greasers despite their wealth and appearances. Not only does Cherry ignore her social class’s standards, but Randy does not fight in the rumble like the other male Socs.
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The next point is, Randy Adderson is violent and rude towards the greasers until his friend, Bob, dies by Johnny Cade’s hand. Randy realizes that violence is not the answer and does not participate in the rumble. He makes a startling choice by talking to Ponyboy in a car and saying, “So it doesn’t do any good, the fighting and the killing… So, I’d fight if I thought it’d do any good” (117). Most Socs are supposedly too cool for emotions, yet Randy proves himself to feel tired of all the violence he endures. Randy also thanks Ponyboy for the conversation by saying “Thanks, grease.” but he corrects himself and says, “I didn’t mean that. I meant, thanks, kid” (117). Ponyboy’s social class is ignored by Randy as he thanks Ponyboy as a person, not as a greaser. This shows that Randy learns that no matter what someone’s social status is, respect can still be shown. Although Socs are known to be devoid of many different sentiments, Randy proves that Socs have more feelings than what was once thought and in doing, so this brings a new perspective for Ponyboy to dwell on. Not only does Randy dismiss the rumble out of his mind, but Dally shows unexpected emotions towards his friend, Johnny Cade.
Finally, most greasers are known as criminals and Dallas Winston is not different. On the other hand, when Dally is paired up with Johnny Cade, he naturally shows a softer side that is unexpected of his usually brutal lifestyle. When Johnny suggests turning himself into the police after killing Bob Sheldon, Dally pleads with Johnny in a tone neither Johnny nor Ponyboy has ever heard. Dally pleads, “I just don’t want you to get hurt. You don’t know what a few months in jail can do to you. Oh, blast it, Johnny… you get hardened in jail. I don’t want that to happen to you. Like it happened to me…” (90). Dally tells Johnny that going to jail hardens people as it hardens him. In doing so, Dally shows that he cares about Johnny and his wellbeing. This alludes to the fact that no matter what someone might look like or act like, there are characteristics that one might not see if they do not know the person to the fullest.
S.E. Hinton’s, The Outsiders teach readers to not assume or judge someone’s character traits based on their social class and appearance. To begin with, Cherry Valance helps the greasers during the rumble and trusts them despite their bad reputation. Furthermore, Randy learns to accept and respect the greasers along with not being involved with violence. Finally, Dally has a more tender and caring side then most people assume. At most seventy-five percent of people will misjudge someone based on appearances and S.E. Hinton teaches her readers to look beyond appearances and judge on who people truly are.