What is the most important life lesson that Ponyboy learns in The Outsiders?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One could argue that Ponyboy's most important life lesson concerns the fact that appearances and reputations can be deceiving. Towards the beginning of the novel, Ponyboy is rather naive and fails to consider that every individual, regardless of age or class, struggles in some area of his or her life. As the novel progresses, Ponyboy interacts with members of the Soc gang, has enlightening conversations with Johnny , experiences traumatic events with his brothers, and develops a broadened perspective on life. Through his interactions with Cherry Valance and Randy Adderson, Ponyboy learns that...

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samoulton | Student

Ponyboy is protected and sheltered by his brother and friends. The moment he chooses to save the children in the church is a pivotal moment for him. He finds himself, and his strength, but ends up losing two friends as a result. Johnny expresses pride in their decision, and reveals to Pony the meaning of the Robert Frost poem by inferring that the children's lives were worth more than his because they were young and innocent, and had more to offer. He dies with honor. Dally expresses anger and regret about their decision which eventually leads to his death as well.

Pony learns that we can make a big difference in the world and our own lives by the choices we make, and possibly control our own destiny. He also learns that he does not have to fit into the mold that his home and surroundings assign to him.

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