What is the novel's message about violence?

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the novel "The Outsiders" written by Hinton and begun when she was 16 years old, revolves around the relationship between the Greasers and the Socs.  The Greasers and the Socs have had long running episodes of violent engagements between one another.  It started with verbal confrontations and grew through the years to include physical violence.  The violence escalates in the story until one of Socs is killed by Johnny, who is defending Pony Boy. 

The two boys have to flee and hide until the situation is resolved.  Dally, their friend, arranges to hide them.  While on the run, the boys see the church in which they were hiding in  burning and children are trapped inside.  The boys run to rescue the children.  While getting the children out the roof collapses on top of Johnny and he is badly burned.  Violence has directly resulted in the Soc Bob's death and indirectly in Johnny's death.

Other aspects of violence in the story include the way that Johnny is treated by his own family.  He is physcially and emotionally abused which has led to him needing the support of his friends, the other Greasers, to provide him with love and acceptance.  Had he been raised differently he may not have needed to belong to a gang.

While Johnny is laying in the hospital dying the Socs and the Greasers wage war and physical violence ensues.  Afterwards Dally and Pony Boy go to the hospital to visit Johnny but Johnny has died.  Dally goes out side and begins engaging in violent behavior.  Believing he has a gun, he is shot to death by the police.  Again violence has taken a life.

The underlying message in the story is that violence only serves to breed more violence and that violence is not the way of life for anyone.  It can only lead to tragedy.

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