What is the author's message in The Outsiders?

One of the main messages of the book The Outsiders is that conflict is destructive and pointless, particularly when it originates between classes and social groups.

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Another central theme in The Outsiders concerns friendship. At one point, the narrator states: "You take up for your buddies no matter what they do. When you're in a gang, you stick up for the members" (66). This bears a special meaning for Ponyboy , as his family consists of...

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Another central theme in The Outsiders concerns friendship. At one point, the narrator states: "You take up for your buddies no matter what they do. When you're in a gang, you stick up for the members" (66). This bears a special meaning for Ponyboy, as his family consists of his brothers and a network of friends. It is an older friend Ponyboy turns to after the shooting incident with the Socs. For Ponyboy, his brothers, and the other Greaser characters, friends are essentially family.

Ponyboy's interactions with Cherry also offer an interesting perspective on friendship. Cherry and Ponyboy have been socially conditioned to hate one another, yet they go out of their way to talk with one another in a compassionate or at least polite way. Their tenuous friendship suggests that friendship itself is so powerful, it can transcend rigid social classes and conventions. 

These are only a few of many instances in the book where friendship plays a crucial role. Through Ponyboy's life and story, the author depicts friendship as a force which is both extremely powerful and very flexible: powerful enough to overcome major obstacles and flexible enough to connect people from different walks of life.

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The author’s message is the theme in a work of fiction.  In The Outsiders, Hinton’s message is that class conflict is pointless, unwarranted, and destructive.

Ponyboy begins by explaining that he is a “greaser,” a term he says is “used to class all us boys on the East Side” (ch 1, p. 3).  By beginning the book this way, Hinton introduces us to a major theme in the book: class conflict. 

The Socs and Greasers are at odds for no other reason than their different social classes.  This leads to a great deal of destruction, ruining several innocent young lives.  Bob is killed because of the violence, and Johnny eventually dies as a result.  Ponyboy’s life is never the same.

When Ponyboy meets Cherry, a Soc girl, he realizes that not all Socs are bad.  They have problems too, even if they are different ones.  They also are more similar to the Greasers than the each group would think.

It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset. (ch 3, p. 40)

It is true that the two groups are not that different.  By constantly feuding, they are accomplishing nothing but perpetuating the war and destroying people’s lives.  There is no reason for them to fight.

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One of the main messages in The Outsiders is that conflicts are destructive, particularly those that originate between people from different socioeconomic classes. Cherry tells Pony early in the novel that "things are rough all over," and at first, Pony can't imagine what the Socs have to worry about. However, because of the divisiveness between the wealthy and the poor, their conflicts leave friends dead on both sides. Bob, Johnny, and Dally all ultimately die because the two groups are filled with ongoing hatred and cannot find a way to live peacefully. Pony comes to understand that the conflict and subsequent deaths neither prove nor resolve anything.

Because Pony learns to listen to those whose life experiences differ from his own, like Cherry and Randy, he becomes open to creating a different life. He realizes that, indeed, everyone has problems, just as Cherry tried to explain to him. Having money doesn't solve problems, and Pony learns that it's possible to find peace despite his lack of financial resources. Pony learns that instead of fueling conflict and hatred, there are other ways to honor the memory of his friends, such as telling the story of their lives and becoming committed to honoring his own life goals.

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An author's message in a work of fiction is more often than not referred to as the theme.  S.E. Hinton has a few themes present in The Outsiders, but I feel the most powerful theme/message is that there is no point in class conflicts.

The beginning of the novel clearly lays out that there is a class division in Ponyboy's world.  There are Greasers, and there are Socs.  The two gangs hate each other, but the only obvious difference between the two groups is financial well being.  The feud is hard on both groups.  Johnny gets beat to within an inch of his life.  Bob actually does lose his life.  Ponyboy is likely forever scarred by the events of the book.  

Hinton begins to lay out her main theme early in the book, when she has Cherry teach Ponyboy that "things are rough all over."  Pony believes her, and it is the start of him seeing the Socs as people similar to him.  

It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset. 

By the end of the novel, Ponyboy has learned that each group is more similar to each other than different.  He has also learned that their feud is more destructive than anything else; therefore, it is pointless to continue fighting. 

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