How is the theme of relationships portrayed in S. E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of relationships is significant to the novel The Outsiders. Throughout the novel, characters develop relationships with one another which affect their perspectives on life and emotional well-being. Relationships are formed among different social groups, as is the case with Ponyboy and Cherry, and unlikely bonds develop between individuals with drastically different personalities, such as the friendship between Dally and Johnny. As the novel progresses, relationships between characters are tested during adverse situations. Hinton gives interesting dynamics to these relationships by introducing conflict which the characters must respond to. Some relationships flourish, like Ponyboy and Johnny's friendship, while others are destroyed, like Sodapop and Sandy's romance. Hinton portrays friendships as uplifting, supportive, and positive, yet fragile. Johnny has a unique relationship with each Greaser member and provides much-needed sympathy to each one of his friends. After Johnny dies, all of the Greasers mourn and Dally loses his mind. Despite experiencing tragedy, Ponyboy is able to repair his controversial relationship with his oldest brother Darry and develop new friendships with Cherry and Randy throughout the novel. Caring relationships and mutual friendships provide support for each character to survive and thrive during tragic events in a broken society throughout the novel.

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The Outsiders

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