How does The Outsiders illustrate the importance of friendship and family?

The Outsiders illustrates the importance of friendship and family by depicting the necessity of forming close bonds and loyalties with like-minded peers as the Greasers struggle to survive in a difficult, hostile environment. The members of the Greaser gang must rely on each other for protection, comfort, and emotional support, which is why their friend group behaves more like a family than a gang.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In S.E. Hinton's classic novel The Outsiders, she illustrates the importance of friendship and family by depicting the close bond between the members of the Greaser gang and the lengths they are willing to go to protect and comfort each other. The Greasers are a gang of poor, delinquent teenagers, who live in the East Side of town and have difficult home lives. Since the majority of Greasers come from broken homes, they view the gang as their surrogate family and treat each other like siblings. Each gang member goes out of their way to defend, comfort, and help their fellow members and they are even willing to sacrifice their freedom and well-being for each other.

The boys view Johnny Cade as the gang's little brother and Darry acts as the gang's surrogate father by making sure everyone is protected and cared for. As the oldest member of the Greasers, Darry keeps his house unlocked at all times and the Curtis home becomes a safe haven for the boys.

Despite Dally's fierce, intimidating personality, he demonstrates his loyalty to his friends by helping Pony and Johnny skip town after Bob Sheldon's murder and even drags Johnny from the burning church. Johnny also demonstrates his love and loyalty to Pony by following him inside the burning church and ends up suffering a fatal injury.

The Greasers' friendship is juxtaposed to the superficial relationships between the Soc members. Unlike the Socs, the Greasers are honest, loyal, and supportive of each other. In the rough environment, the Greasers must rely on each other for nearly everything, which solidifies their close friendship and is the primary reason the gang behaves more like a family.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team