Examine Robert Frost's poem, Nothing Gold can Stay. What do you think the poem is saying? How might this apply to the characters in the novel?
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In the book "The Outsiders" Pony Boy tells the poem to Johnny when they are hiding. Johnny later analyzes the poem in relation to the children. He explains that Golden is the way children look and perceive the world before they find out about the real things and hardships. He wants Pony Boy to stay golden. He is implying that Pony Boy is good and innocent and should keep those qualities.
In looking at the poem in relation to the boys among the Greasers I looked at Dally first;
Dally coped with life through anger. He probably had started out like every child with hope and a need for nurturing. He became a victim of his environment. In the end his hour is over after the one person he loved died. He was grieved like "Eden sank to grief."
Soda Pop is the other character I looked at. Soda Pop is still relatively innocent. He is happy go lucky. He looks to his older brother for support and he dates and works. He is still young and has his looks and what he believes is a bright future. However as he grows older and is existing in the rut and continues to be involved in fights, he may end up in jail or unhappy with the lack of social growth available to him. He is the opposite of Pony Boy who is still in school and can attain better through education. He still sees his life as "The early leaf's a flower."
Darry also fits the poem. He had started out with the opportunity to be come something better. He had parents and support. He had talent in football and was accepted by the Scos. He was golden, but his parent’s death took it away. He had to grieve the life he left behind and become the support financially for his brothers. He is also their emotional support as well as the one who looks after the other boys in the community. He could have been out of the community and had a better life, but he is now trapped in his life. "So dawn goes down to day." Life is what it is for Darry, his life has goes from being dawn which symbolizes the beginning to the reality of what has to happen each day of his life.
The meaning of the poem is that the things that are most beautiful in life are also the things that have the shortest lives. He says the first leaves of nature are their most beautiful and that Eden was the most beautiful place to live. Neither of these beautiful things survived.
I think the clearest illustration of this in the novel is Johnny's death. He was gold for a brief while, but then died. On a more hopeful note, it seems that maybe Ponyboy will be different. Maybe he will actually stay gold. We get this hope at the end of the book because (instead of going and fighting or anything like that) he turns to writing as an outlet for his emotions.
So Johnny was not able to stay gold, but maybe Ponyboy can.
It means that everything young/ amazing eventually gets old and never stays young/ amazing, which is why Johnny's last words to Pony Boy are "Stay Gold, Pony Boy."
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