Explain how Ponyboy's experiences and lessons learned reveal the harmful effects of stereotyping.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ponyboy really experiences a coming-of-age withinThe Outsiders, and part of his growing up experience is his realization of the dangers of stereotyping.  In chapter seven, when Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop at the Tasty Freeze, Ponyboy runs into Randy Anderson, "the tall guy who almost drowned [him]" (114).  His first gut reaction is "I hated them," pinning the blame and guilt for the terrible chain of events on the Socs. 

When Randy calls Ponyboy over to talk, he does not know what to expect, until Randy confesses that he will not be attending the rumble.  Randy lets Ponyboy know that seeing the newspaper article about the fire rescue changed his opinion about the Greasers.  Randy is "sick of all this. Sick and tired" (116).  Their conversation convinces Ponyboy to stop seeing Randy as just a Soc, but instead to see him as an individual. 

Later, when Ponyboy rejoins Two-Bit, his fellow greaser asks, "What'd Mr. Super Soc have to say?" and Ponyboy, now with new insight gained, responds "He ain't a Soc...he's just a guy.  He just wanted to talk" (118).

Ponyboy's conversation with Randy reinforces the dangers of stereotyping, that "people get hurt in rumbles, maybe killed" and "it doesn't do any good" (117).  Randy helps Ponyboy to look beyond the veneer of a Soc to realize that the opposing gang are boys, perhaps in different social circumstances, but just like him.

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