Was Randy cold-blooded for visiting Ponyboy in S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Randy Adderson is not a stellar character by any means. He is part of a gang called the Socs, short for Socials, comprised of more wealthy kids. We know that he committed significant acts of violence, especially against the Greasers, and leaving his best friend and partner in crime (Bob) behind to die could certainly be considered a cold-blooded act. 

After he loses Bob, something in Randy seems to soften, or at least change. In chapter 11, he goes to visit Ponyboy, since Ponyboy has been out of school for a few days after the incident with Bob. What Randy says is that he just came over to check on Ponyboy, but it soon becomes clear that Randy is feeling guilty about what has happened--to all of them.

Tomorrow is the court date, and Randy seems to show at least some regret for all or the trouble between the Greasers and the Socs. In a surprising admission, Randy says:

"My dad says to tell the truth and nobody can get hurt. He's kind of upset about all this. I mean, my dad's a good guy and everything, better than most, and I kind of let him down, being mixed up in all this."

This sounds a lot like remorse, a genuine feeling of regret for what he has done. It is also a rather emotional response, and that, too, is surprising since the Socs, at least according to Cherry, are known for deliberately trying to keep their emotions from showing.

Randy tries to do the right thing by telling Ponyboy that he is not responsible for Bob's death, an act of truthfulness and compassion that could not in any way be construed as "cold-blooded and mean." In fact, after Randy leaves, Ponyboy begins to reconsider some things, and he realizes that in all of his conflicts and fights with the Socs, "the other guy was human too."

In short, there is nothing about Randy's visit which can be considered heartless or cold, things he had previously demonstrated over and over throughout the rest of the novel. 

For more interesting and insightful analysis of this and other classic novels, visit the excellent eNotes sites linked below. 

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