What is the message that S. E Hinton wants to convey about violence in The Outsiders?

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The message of violence in The Outsiders is that violence solves nothing, and it often causes permanent damage to the people involved.

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S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders can be interpreted to have a few different messages about violence. I think the first and most important message is that violence, especially between teens, is senseless and almost never ends well. This is illustrated through the deaths of Bob, Johnny, and Dally. In the first instance, Ponyboy was defending himself when he killed Bob, but because of his gang he was unable to see Bob as a person, only as a Soc. It is only later when Ponyboy begins to understand who Bob truly was as a human being. Johnny and Dally die on their own terms, but both of their deaths are a result of Ponyboy's initial misstep. At the end of the novel, it is clear that all of the characters have started to realize that violence creates more troule than good. In the story, these teenagers act like adults, and then realize that they are still kids who have committed very mature acts, and are challenged to face the repercussions.

Another message could be that, with determination, it is possible to escape a life of violence. At the novel's end, despite Ponyboy's involvement in the gang throughout his life, the reader is left to believe that he will go on to be successul in school, perhaps go to college, and escape his prior poverty and crime.

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What is The Outsiders' message about violence?

The Outsiders' message of violence is not much different from the real world view: People get hurt and people get killed, but nothing positive results from violent actions. The beatings Johnny takes from both his parents and from the Socs only cause to scare him and make him wary of virtually everyone besides his greaser brothers. The beatings by the Socs cause him to carry a knife, and he eventually uses it to defend Pony when the Socs try to drown Pony in the park. The death of Bob Sheldon leads to the two boys' decision to leave town to avoid the police and eventually to the injuries Johnny receives in the fire. Dallas's violent streak lands him in jail often, and though he claims to be proud of his extensive police record, he actually yearns for a life in the country where he can do what he loves most: working with and jockeying race horses. Dally's armed robbery of the convenience store leads directly to his meaningless death when he is shot dead in the street by police. Johnny knows best that the much-anticipated rumble will solve nothing:

"Useless... fighting's no good..."  (Chapter 10)

Two-Bit gets "an awful feeling something's [bad] gonna happen," and all of the greasers suffer injuries. Pony takes more than a week to recover from the concussion he receives, and little is solved. Fighting may make the boys look tough, and the greasers' victory at the rumble does keep the Socs from invading their turf, but nothing really changes for the boys from the wrong side of the tracks. As Randy reminds Pony,

"You can't win, even if you whip us. You'll still be where you were before--at the bottom... So it doesn't do any good, the fighting and the killing. It doesn't prove a thing. Greasers will still be greasers, and Socs will still be Socs...  (Chapter 7)

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In The Outsiders, what message about violence does the author wants to convey?

It is important to realise that the portrayal of this violence in this important coming-of-age novel is inextricably intertwined with issues of class difference that dominate the novel. Both groups, Socs and Greasers, are involved in violence, and often this violence occurs against each other. Ponyboy, in his introduction to the world in which he lives, makes this similarity clear. Note how he describes the two different groups:

I reckon we're wilder, too. Not like the Socs, who jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks, and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next. Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.

Violence is an endemic part of both the existence of the Socs and Greasers. However, and this is important to note, at no stage does the author actually approve of the violence or present it as something to be followed. The violence is just presented as an inevitable outcome of the class differences.

Thinking along these lines, it is important to realise that this novel is not a manual or a manifesto of how to stop such violence. The best that can be hoped for, the text suggests, is mutual understanding that can help the two groups understand that they are all human, like Ponyboy achieves with Randy and Cherry. Note how the motif of watching and enjoying sunsets is used to suggest this shared humanity. As Ponyboy decides what to write for his English report, he has a desire to share the experience of the youth of his day:

I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better.

It is important to note that whilst the novel does not come up with a solution to the violence, we can see in Ponyboy's attempt to write about the life of a youth in his time that there is hope for a better future based on mutual understanding of a shared humanity.

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