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In The Outsiders, what does the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" mean and how does it...

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sonjavans | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM via web

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In The Outsiders, what does the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" mean and how does it portray the characteristics of Johhny and Ponyboy?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 20, 2012 at 3:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Johnny and Ponyboy are young and innocent, or “gold” at the beginning of the story.  Since “nothing gold can stay” they lose their innocence.

The poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is a poem about nature and life by Robert Frost. 

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold. (lines 1-2)

Green means youth in nature, and Frost is commenting that youth is valuable.  However, it is also the hardest color to hang on to.  Green does not last.  Youth will always be corrupted.

When Johnny and Ponyboy see the beautiful gold of the country, Ponyboy comments that he read a poem about nothing gold being able to stay.  This symbolizes the boys’ youth and innocence and how they were not able to hold onto it.

"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold..." The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.

Johnny is asking Ponyboy to stay good, despite the difficulty of doing so in a society where everything seems to work against them.


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ik9744 | TA , Grade 9 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM (Answer #3)

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It means that being pure can't stay. Meaning one day you will be the opposite of goodness.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 20, 2012 at 2:34 PM (Answer #2)

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This means that goodness and innocence cannot last. The sensitive Johnny suffers a grim death and Ponyboy, the young naive narrator, is forced to learn about conflict and violence.

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