What are some significant symbols in the book The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

S.E. Hinton uses many of the symbols in The Outsiders to convey or build on the social conflict between the greasers and the Socs.  The Socs' cool cars, like Corvairs, Mustangs, and Stingrays, become a symbol of their wealth and prestige.  In direct contrast, the greasers' most powerful symbol that they use to represent themselves is their hair.  When Johnny insists that Ponyboy cut and dye his hair, he bitterly reflects:

"Our hair labeled us greasers, too-- it was our trademark.  The one thing we were proud of.  Maybe we couldn't have Corvairs or madras shirts, but we could have hair" (71).

Ponyboy and the other greasers' hair is a matter of pride, an identifiable aspect of their greaser persona.  Hinton incorporates these two symbols throughout the novel as visual evidence of the difference between greasers and Socs.


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The Outsiders

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