How does Ponyboy change the way he looks at things during the novel The Outsiders?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the course of S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders, the protagonist and first person narrator, Ponyboy, becomes a dynamic character who changes his outlook on several things because he is able to see the world in a different way. Through his interaction with Cherry and Randy, he develops a totally different opinion of the Socs. Likewise, he comes to see his brothers, Darry and Sodapop, with an altered attitude.

In chapter two, Ponyboy meets Cherry Valance, the girlfriend of the Soc Bob, who is later killed by Johnny. During their talk, Ponyboy discovers that Cherry has some of the same interests as he does, including reading and watching sunsets. Cherry admits that she doesn't have much time to watch sunsets but she could tell that Ponyboy liked them. After meeting Cherry, Ponyboy reflects that, "Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different" because they could see the "same sunset." Despite later negative encounters with the Socs, Ponyboy also comes to understand the Socs better after his meeting with Randy in chapter seven. 

Just as Ponyboy's hatred of the Socs grows after Johnny's misfortune, his attitude is again changed after talking to Randy before the rumble. Randy talks of his friendship with Bob and how Bob was "the best buddy a guy ever had." Ponyboy begins to relate this to his own life and comes to realize that his relationships with his friends and brothers is not much different than those of the Socs. After this discussion, he even refers to Randy as "just a guy" rather than a Soc, which is a label and a stereotype, much like the term greaser, which doesn't account for the character of the individual.

Ponyboy also comes to understand his brothers much better and their relationship is strengthened in the end. Throughout the novel, his relationship with Darry is evolving. After the incidents at the church and in the hospital, Ponyboy begins to appreciate just how much Darry cares about him. Ponyboy didn't always understand his big brother's loyalty and affection. He actually thought Darry hated him and blamed him for having to go to work rather than college. He mistook Darry's attention to Ponyboy's problems as meddling, but finally realizes that Darry was simply doing his best for both of his brothers after the death of the boys' parents. 

Late in the novel, Ponyboy finally begins to look at Sodapop as a person with real problems, rather than an idol who can do no wrong. Through much of the novel, Ponyboy portrays Sodapop as larger than life with "movie-star" looks and a carefree attitude toward life. In chapter twelve, Sodapop totally loses his cool after receiving a returned letter from his girlfriend Sandy. Ponyboy admits that he always thought Sodapop didn't have any problems. When Sodapop storms out of the house, Ponyboy and Darry go after him and discover that their constant bickering is emotionally upsetting to Sodapop. Ponyboy and Darry admit they never even considered Sodapop's feelings. The episode reveals that all three boys have changed, particularly Ponyboy, in their attitudes about each other.  

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The Outsiders

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