What Is The Tone Of The Outsiders

     What would you say the Tone/Mood of The Outsiders is?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of a novel is essentially the way an author expresses their feelings towards the story through the use of words and writing style. The tone of a story is conveyed through diction, syntax, point of view, and the level of formality. Throughout The Outsiders, one could consider S.E. Hinton's tone to be sincere, informal, and serious. Ponyboy's narration is genuine and gives the reader an accurate depiction of his feelings towards other characters and situations. In chapter 3, Pony reveals his sincere feelings about the Socs by mentioning,

Socs were always behind a wall of aloofness, careful not to let their real selves show through. I had seen a social-club rumble once. The Socs even fought coldly and practically and impersonally (Hinton, 34).

Since Ponyboy is an adolescent, his tone is informal and the words he uses to narrate the story are relatively straightforward. Hinton's serious tone is revealed through the events and backgrounds of the characters throughout the novel. The story deals with serious subjects like physical and psychological abuse, murder, displacement, and death.

The mood of a novel refers to the atmosphere of a story and the overall emotion the reader feels towards the text. Mood is developed through setting, tone, and diction. The overall mood of The Outsiders is bitter and restless. Ponyboy expresses his resentment towards society for his rough, difficult life. He is bitter towards the Socs for having material wealth and more opportunities in life. Pony experiences numerous exciting events throughout the novel and is continually surrounded by action. He has few opportunities to rest and process everything that is happening in his life, which is why the mood of the story could be considered restless.

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tone and mood are closely tied to one another.  Here's a simple explanation on the difference. Tone would be the writer's attitude toward his/her subject matter.  Mood is the audience's feelings as they read that particular piece. 

I would say that the tone of "The Outsiders" is realistic.  Hinton doesn't shy away from the brutality of the Greaser life.  It reads like she wanted to shine a light on a subject that people were averse to seeing.  In some ways it reminds me of investigative journalism.  The point is to shed light on a social injustice AND tell a story at the same time.  You can't say that Hinton's tone is cold and unattached.  She isn't just reporting the facts.  If that were the case, there would be a lot more narration on the Socs. Hinton's tone is focused on the plight of the Greasers and she wants her audience to know each facet of that Greaser life. 

The mood changes throughout the novel.  In the story the mood is a bit rebellious. It's clear that Hinton wants the reader to identify with the Greasers and feel that disdain toward the Socs and their money. That rebellious mood turns toward anger.  The story about Johnny getting jumped by 4 Socs helps sell that mood.  Fear is present in the story as well.  For example when Pony and Johnny are on the run and hiding away in the church. Sadness is the mood Hinton establishes when Dally and Johnny are both killed.  All in all, the mood of "The Outsiders" is not happy. It ends a bit hopeful, but is never happy. 

jdang0009 | Student

the mood at some points is also dark and mysterious like when they're at the park

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The Outsiders

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