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In Chapter 12 of The Outsiders, the last quote in the book says, "When I stepped out...

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dentalassist | TA , Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM via web

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In Chapter 12 of The Outsiders, the last quote in the book says, "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." What does this mean?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 11, 2013 at 5:08 AM (Answer #1)

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With the final line of this powerful book, in a sense the story comes full circle, as the reader suddenly realises that what they have been reading is Ponyboy's English essay that he has written for his teacher. Having experienced the death of Johnny and the other various events in the novel, Ponyboy finds himself thinking that he needs to tell others about the kind of situations that Johnny and countless other young people face in order to prevent another tragedy like the one that has occurred in this book:

It was too vast a problem to be just a personal thing. There should be some help, someone should tell them before it was too late. Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people wouldn't understand then and wouldn't be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore. It was important to me.

One of the big themes of this text has been how society is divided between two groups, and how characters are judged massively by which group they are a part of. Ponyboy therefore decides to be the one who can tell "their side of the story," and to hopefully achieve understanding so that this kind of judging and stereotyping would not happen. The final lines of this story therefore are exactly the same as the first lines, because what the reader has just read has been exactly what Ponyboy has written for his English essay. The only question left to consider is whether the reader feels Ponyboy has achieved his aim. 

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