Did the film The Outsiders capture the foreshadowing in the novel?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola captures the novel very well. One example of foreshadowing that occurs in both the novel and the movie is the fact that Johnny starts to carry a switchblade in his back pocket after he is attacked by the Socs. Ponyboy relates this through the first person narration of the novel, but in the film it is not really appropriate to use this method of conveying information, so it is through a conversation with Cherry (a more cinematic choice) that Ponyboy informs her of how Johnny was badly beaten by the Socs, and has taken to carrying a knife and would kill the next person who attacked him.

But what's interesting is that Johnny ends up using the knife to kill Bob when the Socs attack Ponyboy and try to drown him. So Johnny's decision to carry a knife to protect himself ends up being the factor that saves Ponyboy's life. Unfortunately Johnny's act of defending Ponyboy winds up forcing Johnny to go on the run and avoid being seen. This leads to the fire in the church and Johnny's heroic acts, trying to save the kids inside, which leads to Johnny's death. Having the conversation take place between Ponyboy and Cherry emphasizes the ways that this chain of events is significant in allowing Ponyboy to ultimately tell the entire story, because Johnny's bravery and loyalty are catalyzed by his being attacked by the Socs. In telling this to Cherry, who he likes, Ponyboy is trying to get her to see that the Greasers are only defending themselves and are not bad people, and that her friends (the Socs) are in fact the predatory ones in the conflict. In seeing the conversation take place between them, and the emotions conveyed by the actors, viewers are able to remember and connect the feelings exchanged by these characters and the way they inform the story's events. Conveying foreshadowing on film is often done with imagery or visual symbols; in this case it is done through a conversation in which a close friendship (between Ponyboy and Johnny) is being discussed, and that friendship is later destroyed when Johnny's actions lead to his accidental death.