The Outsiders, by S.E Hinton, is written from the perspective of Ponyboy.  What advantages and disadvantages does this present for the reader? 

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boomer-sooner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narration of The Outsiders by Ponyboy presents advantages and disadvantages for the reader. The advantages include the shared experience and insight of Ponyboy. The disadvantages are the single lens perspective and bias from him.

Ponyboy relays his recent adventures and life as a "greaser". Among the many struggles he and his brothers face are attacks from the "Soc's", low income, and few future perspectives. With Ponyboy narrating the story, the reader is drawn into his world and begins to understand the loyalty he feels toward his friends while experiencing the pain of wanting more in life than just living. The insights Ponyboy provides as the story moves along hints at his depth of character, yet reminds us he is still a boy. Ponyboy feels ashamed for crying after being jumped at the beginning of the book showing his emotional side at his young age. Later, he remarks that things are tough all over when Cherry Valence explains the difficulties and pressures the Soc's face.  This shows his depth of understanding of the world.  The perspective of a single person, as part of the story, makes it a very easy book to understand as it progresses along a definite linear storyline.

The disadvantages are the single lens focus and the bias Ponyboy has because he is involved in the story. Ponyboy demonstrates his loyalty to the greaser's and references it many times throughout the book. Despite knowing Johnny was within his rights to self-defense, Ponyboy still takes up with him and escapes to the church. This demonstrates his loyalty, but also shows his bias. During the time the two are at the church, the reader is left with little detail on the thoughts and feelings of the other characters in the story. Ponyboy, as the narrator, cannot give the precious thoughts of his older brothers Daryl or SodaPop even though Ponyboy references their deeper characters. The single lens narration also deprives the reader of the motive of Cherry toward Ponyboy. He presents it as an innocent encounter between two kindled souls, but his bias does not allow for a more complete picture of the relationship.

Ponyboy's narration of the events of his life are aid and hamper the reader.   The ability to experience his reality draws the reader into the story, but his bias leave the reader with an incomplete picture of the reality.  

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The Outsiders

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