What is the main idea of Rumble Fish?

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There are multiple main ideas that can be pulled from this particular Hinton book. Readers that are familiar with Hinton's works are likely to agree that Rumble Fish is a noticeably darker book than her other books like The Outsidersand That Was Then, This is Now.Rumble Fish is...

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There are multiple main ideas that can be pulled from this particular Hinton book. Readers that are familiar with Hinton's works are likely to agree that Rumble Fish is a noticeably darker book than her other books like The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now. Rumble Fish is loaded with gang violence and broken relationships, and does not end with anything resembling a happy ending or a coming of age message.

One message that I think Hinton does a wonderful job of showing readers is the emptiness that is gang life. Rusty-James and Steve are friends, but there is tension in that friendship due to the fact that Steve is not so sold on the gang life. Motorcycle Boy's own actions help to show Rusty that a better life can be found elsewhere; however, Rusty simply refuses to listen to those words of warning. Consequently, he loses his friendship with Steve.

I would argue that Motorcycle Boy dies as a consequence of his former gang life and the reputation that he earned there. Readers get a wonderful piece of symbolism regarding the gang life from Motorcycle Boy and the "rumble fish." Motorcycle Boy tells Rusty that the fish would fight to the death if given the chance. It is a strong reminder to readers that nothing good is going to come about from Rusty's clinging on to a gang mentality, gang fights, and having gang enemies like Biff. In the end, Motorcycle Boy dies, the rumble fish die, and Steve and Rusty do not speak for five years. Rusty's life style is empty and lonely, and that is a very different look at gang violence than the brotherhood that Ponyboy was able to give readers.

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