What does Pepsi symbolize in The Outsiders?

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Pepsi is one of Ponyboy's favorite drinks and he even refers to himself as a "Pepsi addict" while he is hiding out in the abandoned church in Windrixville. While Pony and Johnny are hiding out, he feigns for a Pepsi and says that he is not used to going...

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Pepsi is one of Ponyboy's favorite drinks and he even refers to himself as a "Pepsi addict" while he is hiding out in the abandoned church in Windrixville. While Pony and Johnny are hiding out, he feigns for a Pepsi and says that he is not used to going five days without one. Pony is known for drinking Pepsi while he is relaxing or hanging out with his friends and the drink is associated with Pony's pleasant childhood moments. In addition to being Pony's favorite drink, "Pepsi-cola" is Darry's pet nickname for Sodapop. Darry calls his brother Pepsi-cola to cheer him up after Sandy breaks up with him and Pony hasn't heard Darry call him that since they were young. Given the fact that Pony enjoys Pepsi and it is Darry's pet nickname for Sodapop, one could argue that Pepsi symbolizes innocence and childhood. Following the tragic deaths of Johnny and Dally, Ponyboy becomes completely numb and threatens to cut a group of Socs with a broken Pepsi bottle. The broken Pepsi bottle symbolically represents Pony's lost innocence and his negative outlook on life.

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S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders is set in 1967. Pepsi was only sold in glass bottles in those days. The glass bottles that contain Pepsi are used as weapons a couple of times in the novel when someone breaks a piece off a bottle and threatens another with it. So it could be argued that Pepsi has a symbolic connection to violence.

A better connection to the symbolism of Pepsi in the novel is the loss of innocence it represents. Ponyboy talks about Pepsi when he is hiding out in the church with Johnny after the murder: 

"By the fifth day I was so tired of baloney I nearly got sick every time I looked at it. We had eaten all our candy bars in the first two days. I was dying for a Pepsi. I'm what you might call a Pepsi addict. I drink them like a fiend, and going for five days without one was about to kill me. Johnny promised to get some if we ran out of supplies and had to get some more, but that didn't help me right then."

Ponyboy and Johnny never had a simple life, but they had a life they were comfortable with. When Ponyboy writes about his withdrawal from Pepsi, it represents the loss of life as they knew it. Pepsi was part of his everyday routine, and now that routine is gone. Life for Ponyboy and Johnny will never go back to the way it was before the murder. 

They have been in isolation for five days at this point in the novel. The weight and reality of what has happened has settled in and they have no idea what their future will hold. Not only is Ponyboy physically pining for Pepsi, he is also pining for his life before hiding in the church. Pepsi, which was so much a part of everyday life for him, is now part of that desire to return to life the way it was.

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When Johnny and Ponyboy are hiding out in the church, Ponyboy says, "I was dying for a Pepsi. I'm what you might call a Pepsi addict. I drink them like a fiend, and going for five days without one was about to kill me." When Dallas takes them out after they've been in the church for several days, the first thing Ponyboy orders at Dairy Queen is a Pepsi. 

Pepsi symbolizes Ponyboy's and Sodapop's innocent desires. Ponyboy and Soda do not drink alcohol, but both love Pepsi. Soda does not drink alcohol, as, in Ponyboy's words, "He gets drunk on just plain living." The fact that Ponyboy only craves Pepsi when he is in hiding—not alcohol or drugs—means he is essentially an innocent kid who is only addicted to reading and drinking Pepsi. Ponyboy gets caught up in a situation that is deadly, but he is an innocent kid who is not self-destructive.

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