"Sixteen years on the streets, you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things..." What may the boys in The Outsiders have wanted to learn?  

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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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This quote comes from Johnny Cade while he lay dying in the hospital following the fire. Johnny had often thought about killing himself, but he now realized that he wanted to live. He had not seen enough or lived enough. The 16 years spent on the street taught him a great deal about fighting, survival and staying tough, but he had seen little else of the world. His trip to the church in Windrixville had been the only time he'd left his neighborhood. He knew he would never walk again, and he told Pony and Two-Bit that "It's not fair." Johnny would probably have liked to forge a better relationship with his parents, finish school, enjoy having a girlfriend, and walk around his neighborhood again without having to look over his shoulder for Socs. Instead, he had learned the ropes of being a gang member.

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This quote comes from Ponyboy, who visits Johnny Cade at the hospital in Chapter 8. The two friends have a conversation as Johnny is lying in his hospital bed after suffering significant injuries during the church fire. Johnny mentions to Ponyboy that he is scared to die and feels like living for sixteen years is not long enough. Johnny then tells Ponyboy that there are many things that he has not had a chance to see during his life. He also mentions that the only time he ever left the city was when they traveled to Windrixville. Ponyboy then comments,

"Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn" (Hinton, 103). 

The members of the Greasers, particularly Johnny, may have wanted to learn what it was like to have loving parents and the opportunity to live an easy life. The majority of the Greasers grew up without many opportunities to experience the finer things in life. Tragically, members of the Greasers live unstable, rough lives. They would have liked to learn what the world was like outside of the city.

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nobodylovesyou's profile pic

nobodylovesyou | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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pony boy learned to smoke at a young age which is not healthy for a young man.