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What is The Outsiders' message about violence?

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fjaipoon | eNoter

Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM via web

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What is The Outsiders' message about violence?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 30, 2012 at 6:13 PM (Answer #1)

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The Outsiders' message of violence is not much different from the real world view: People get hurt and people get killed, but nothing positive results from violent actions. The beatings Johnny takes from both his parents and from the Socs only cause to scare him and make him wary of virtually everyone besides his greaser brothers. The beatings by the Socs cause him to carry a knife, and he eventually uses it to defend Pony when the Socs try to drown Pony in the park. The death of Bob Sheldon leads to the two boys' decision to leave town to avoid the police and eventually to the injuries Johnny receives in the fire. Dallas's violent streak lands him in jail often, and though he claims to be proud of his extensive police record, he actually yearns for a life in the country where he can do what he loves most: working with and jockeying race horses. Dally's armed robbery of the convenience store leads directly to his meaningless death when he is shot dead in the street by police. Johnny knows best that the much-anticipated rumble will solve nothing:

"Useless... fighting's no good..."  (Chapter 10)

Two-Bit gets "an awful feeling something's [bad] gonna happen," and all of the greasers suffer injuries. Pony takes more than a week to recover from the concussion he receives, and little is solved. Fighting may make the boys look tough, and the greasers' victory at the rumble does keep the Socs from invading their turf, but nothing really changes for the boys from the wrong side of the tracks. As Randy reminds Pony,

"You can't win, even if you whip us. You'll still be where you were before--at the bottom... So it doesn't do any good, the fighting and the killing. It doesn't prove a thing. Greasers will still be greasers, and Socs will still be Socs...  (Chapter 7)

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