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One of the major ways in which Ponyboy has matured in the course of Hinton's work is through reaffirming his own values and sense of self. Throughout a period of challenging social values in which the conflict between the Socs and Greasers combined with the adolescent questioning of one's identity might have resulted in one's doubting of self, Ponyboy develops the internal strength to remain true to his sense of self. While he has found a way to stand up for his own beliefs and remain loyal to the group, it has not resulted in his abandoning of his identity. He still will be the one to clean up the glass pieces "so that no one gets hurt." This might be the ultimate statement of maturation, in that while things might change, an individual's sense of character and dignity should remain intact.
In the beginning of Hinton's book "The Outsiders" Pony Boy sees the Socs as enemies. The Socs and the Greasers have been at war, gang war and social class war, as long as he can remember. To him they are a collective group of teens who have privileges and no problems. Pony Boy has to look at those things from the outside. His parents are dead and he is being raised by an older brother Darry and his brother Soda Pop. They are also Greasers.
One night Pony Boy and his friend Johnny have a conflict with the Socs. They are dunking Pony Boy underwater in a fountain and Johnny thinks that he is drowning. Johnny stabs Bob to protect Pony Boy. The boys are hidden away in an old church by Dally, their friend. They decide to go back and turn themselves in.
Along the way to maturing several events happen: Pony Boy has constant arguments with his older brother Darry. He meets a Soc named Cherry who seems to like him and shares what the life of Socs is like. He and Johnny save children from a fire in the church. Johnny dies because the church falls on him. He lingers for while, but his burns are too bad. One of Bob's friends that is a Soc goes to Pony Boy to talk with him about Bob and the situation that had happened.
Through his journey the signs of maturity that surface are: Pony Boy begins to realize that Darry has taken on the role as his parent because he loves him. The Socs are not really so different from the Greasers. They may have things but they still have insecurities, parental issues, hopes and dreams, and struggle to get through adolescence. He makes a decision to take responsibility for his own life. He recognizes that continued violence is not the answer. He picks up a pen in the end of the book and begins to write the story of The Greasers and the Socs, a written school assignment he had previously avoided doing.
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