Based on S. E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders, how would one compare Ponyboy's feelings toward Randy and Bob at the beginning and end of the novel? What major events caused the change?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the beginning of the S. E. Hinton novel The Outsiders, Ponyboy's opinion of Bob and Randy, two Socs, is governed by the prejudices against different social classes that underscore the themes of the novel. Hinton uses his novel to show that there truly aren't any differences between social classes--we're all human.

Ponyboy's opinion of Socs like Bob and Randy is first expressed in Chapter 4, when he and Johnnycake get into a fight with both Bob and Randy for talking with Soc girls, Cherry Valance and Macia, earlier in Chapter 3. In Chapter 4, insults are exchanged, making the fight escalate. Bob's insult to both greasers Ponyboy and Johnnycake offers Ponyboy the perfect excuse for believing all Socs should be hated: "You know what a greaser is? ... White trash with long hair" (p. 48). Ponyboy feels he had never heard a worse insult before and feels that if a Soc like Bob would judge greasers to be "white trash," then Socs must be "white trash" themselves indeed, as Ponyboy next phrases it, "white trash with Mustangs and madras" (p. 48).

However, it's Cherry who gets Ponyboy to understand that there was much more to Bob as a person than what he displayed as a Soc to the greasers while still alive. By Chapter 11, Ponyboy starts wondering what Bob was really like as a person due to the things Cherry had said about him. Pony knows Cherry is a "smart girl" who wouldn't like Bob just for his looks. Pony starts thinking about Cherry's description of him: "sweet and friendly, stands out in a crowd" (p. 138). He also starts thinking about Randy's description of Bob: "a real person, the best buddy a guy ever had" (p. 138). All in all, these descriptions help Pony start seeing beyond the prejudices of class distinction and start to see Socs like Bob and Randy as real human beings, just like Pony, his brothers, and the rest of the greasers. 

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