How does author foreshadow that the church might catch fire in The Outsiders?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author provides a few statements that foreshadow that the church might catch on fire. When Ponyboy first enters the church, he describes it as

"a small church, real old and spooky and spiderwebby...it gave (him) the creeps."

A few lines later, he repeats that

"this church gave (him) a kind of creepy feeling,"

 and wonders if what he feels is "premonition" (Chapter 4).

Ponyboy gives scattered details about the church which foreshadow the danger it presents as relates to fire. The boys enter the church by climbing in a small back window (Chapter 4), and the building itself is "old" and "wooden." As the days pass, Ponyboy's feeling of unease and foreboding does not diminish; he feels

"just a little spooky...really (doesn't) know what's the matter."

Perhaps the clearest examples of foreshadowing are the frequent references to the boys' smoking. The boys smoke because they are bored, and they smoke a lot. Ponyboy goes

 "to sit on the steps and smoke(s) a cigarette"

in the early morning before Johnny even awakes, and he is described as

"blowing a perfect smoke ring"

while he talks with Johnny. Ponyboy admits that he is

"smoking a lot more there than (he) usually did...because it was something to do - although Johnny warned (him) that (he) would get sick smoking so much."

Finally, Ponyboy notes specifically that he and Johnny 

"were careful with (their) cigarettes...(because) if that old church ever caught fire there'd be no stopping it" (Chapter 5).

Read the study guide:
The Outsiders

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