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In The Outsiders by S E Hinton, Ponyboy Curtis, a "Greaser," narrates the story of the lives and struggles of his gang of "Greasers" as they try to pitch themselves against the more popular and wealthy "Socs," or Socials. Ponyboy and his brothers, Darry and Soda have to manage without their parents who were killed in a car accident some years before. The novel allows the reader to contemplate how circumstances can lead to unfortunate events and misunderstandings can have tragic results. The novel does, however, end on a note of hope as Ponyboy, seemingly hardened by all the events despite his friends' desperate pleas:"Don't get tough. You're not like the rest of us and don't try to be..."reveals his true nature.
There are many instances in the novel where comparisons are made. Similes and metaphor allow a writer to relay a message in an indirect way, allowing for a broader understanding which gives readers an opportunity to interpret and visualize something from a perspective they may not have considered previously.
The novel includes Robert Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," and Ponyboy relates it to Johnny, his best friend, whilst they are hiding. It has an impact on Johnny who has had time to reflect on the poem and explains his understanding of it. In his explanation, Johnny uses both metaphor (comparing everything "new" to the "dawn" by way of direct comparison) and simile ("gold...like green," using the word like to explain the comparison):
“I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you're gold when you're a kid, like green (simile). When you're a kid everything's new, dawn..."(metaphor).
On his deathbed, Johnny reminds Ponyboy to "Stay gold, Ponyboy, Stay gold," also a metaphor, gold being a precious metal and revealing Johnny's wish that Ponyboy remains true to himself. The metaphor and paradox from the poem is relative to the "Greasers," a tight-knit group of misunderstood youths where, it seems that, as Frost says, "Nothing gold can stay," inferring the transitory nature of life and how the boys' innocent childhood has been replaced by the realities of life.
There aren't many metaphors in The Outsiders. The only one I can think of is in chapter 2 when Cherry compares the lives of Socs to a rat race. She's explaining how the Socs lives are fast paced and stressful but they are lacking in direction and have no real destination.
Thre are many similes. On page 98 Ponyboy says that Soda bawled like a baby. Soda was said to be the "cry baby" of the Greasers, the one who wore his emotions on sleeve.
On page 148, when some of the Greasers visit Johnny, he is sleeping and Ponyboy notices that Johnny looks died, like a candle with the flame gone. His face showed no signs of life.
Throughout the book, Darry is described of being a big, strong guy. On page 105, Ponyboy comments about how Darry flexes his muscles in a way that made them look like oversized baseballs.
These are a few examples of the many similes Hinton included in her book.
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