The Outsiders Questions and Answers
by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What do you think Johnny's last words to Ponyboy in The Outsiders means?  

Expert Answers info

tpisano eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write100 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and Business

When Johnny tells  Ponyboy to "stay gold" he is referring back to the poem that Ponyboy recited while they were in the old church in Windrixville.  The poem, by Robert Frost, is called "Nothing Gold Can Stay". The basic idea of the poem is that life happens in fleeting moments. Good things do not stay long enough.  The poem is basically a metaphor for youth.  Johnny is reminding Pony to stay young and innocent. He doesn't want Ponyboy to become cold and hard like Dallas Winston. He wants him to remain the same, a good and intelligent young man, forever. He wants him to continue to be unique amongst the greasers and stay true to himself. He would like Ponyboy to continue to find happiness in sunsets, books, and movies. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



gmwillia | Student

Ponyboy, an academic and avid reader recites Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" in the aftermath of Bob's murder in Chapter 5. As Ponyboy and Johnny Cade sit gazing at the beauty of a sunrise behind an abandoned church in Windrixville, Johnny says "too bad it couldn't stay like that all the time" when the fleeting sunrise has passed. This statement reminds Ponyboy of the poem and he narrates the lines of the poem to Johnny who has never heard it before. Johnny exclaims "Where'd you learn that? That was what I meant" after he hears the poem because it described his feeling perfectly.

In chapter 6, Johnny sacrifices himself to save the children who become trapped in the burning church. As he lays dying in the hospital bed, he whispers to Ponyboy to "Stay Gold" and then dies. This reference to the poem is the message that Johnny wants to leave with Ponyboy who is very different from many of the other Greasers. Unlike his peers who often do not finish school or appreciate the beauty of the world around them, Ponyboy is sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful. Johnny wants Ponyboy to not let the fact that he is a Greaser change him or allow it to negatively affect his future. In the poem, Frost uses the biblical allusion of the Garden of Eden to demonstrate how even the most perfect and beautiful of gardens do not last forever. When Johnny tells Ponyboy to "Stay Gold," he is telling him that Ponyboy is special, he is "golden" and he should remain that way for as long as he can.

jess1999 | Student

Towards the end , Johnny told Ponyboy to " stay gold " , when he told Ponyboy to " stay gold " it means that he should stay pure . To hold on to his youth being truthful .

ik9744 | Student

Johnny told Ponyboy to, "Stay gold." Which means to stay good, young, or pure. To not turn into Dally, even though he can be a great buddy.

classicaldvorakviolinistlover | Student

"gold" means "good" so he is trying to say "stay good,ponyboy, stay good"

what he means by that is up to you.

But the word "stay" also tells you hes is alredy doing it so he is probably not telling him to do somthing or not do somthing.

sources: 8th grade.

ftw-readmachine | Student

Stay Gold= Near the beginning of the book Ponyboy asks himself what is better growing up fast like Darry and being hard, or just not growing up at all like Sodapop and being fun and playful. Johhny means, "stay gold" as don't grow up be fun,playful, and stay as you are intelligent, nice, and good.

ponyboilover | Student

"Stay Gold, Ponyboy, Stay Gold" means to keep his youthfull innocence and not get caught up in these useless fights.

nacory | Student

stay gold - means to be good