With evidence from the text, what do you think is The Outsiders' message about violence?

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Perhaps Johnny says it best from his deathbed after Pony and Dally jubilantly report to him that the greasers defeated the Socs at the rumble.

"Useless... fighting's no good..."

Both the Socs and the greasers recognize that the rumble will solve nothing (other than the Socs' promise to stay out of greaser territory). As Randy has already told Pony,

"You can't win, even if you whip us. You'll still be where you were before--at the bottom... So it doesn't do any good, the fighting and the killing... Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs."

The rumble did little but to create further hatred within the two groups. Pony, meanwhile, realizes that the Socs are no different from the greasers: He has managed to become friendly with both Cherry and Randy, and he likes them both. The deaths of the three boys has taught him that violence only leads to more violence, and Pony's desire to honor the truce between himself and Darry shows that he understands that a peaceful solution to a problem has a much better chance of succeeding than by more violent means.

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Hinton uses the theme of violence in The Outsiders to convey the strong message that resorting to violence is not an effective way to resolve conflicts.  The scene in chapter seven between Randy and Ponyboy reinforces the pointlessness of violence as Randy reflects on all the damage that gang violence has caused and worries about the upcoming rumble:

"And tonight..people get hurt in rumbles, maybe killed.  I'm sick of it because it doesn't do any good. You can't win, you know that don't you?" (116-117).

Like Randy, Ponyboy comes to acknowledge the role violence has played in destroying the lives of his friends, Johnny and Dally.  Although Hinton's book is full of violent action, the novel definitely does not glorify violence, but uses the events to relate the tragic consequences of the characters' choices.

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In her novel, S.E. Hinton addressed the topic of violence from multiple angles. Johnny Cade is the the victim of violence when he is assaulted by the Socs and beaten by his father (plus his mother's verbal and mental abuse); Ponyboy refers to Johnny as "a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers..."  Ponyboy is also attacked by the Socs.  The Curtis boys and their friends participate in a "rumble," and Dally experiences violence during his childhood and adolescence spent in the streets.  Eventually, Johnny dies as in indirect result of the Socs attacking him; Dally dies a violent death because he cannot handle losing Johnny.  Overall, the novel delves deeply into the idea of violence and sends a message that it solves nothing and only damages those involved.

Near the end of Chapter 7, Ponyboy has a conversation with Randy, Bob's friend and one of the Socs who attacked Ponyboy and Johnny.  After Bob's death, Randy seems to realize the futility of fighting a battle that no one can really win.  He decides that he will not participate in the rumble scheduled for that night because it is pointless.

"...people get hurt in rumbles, maybe killed.  I'm sick of it because it doesn't do any good.  You can't win, you know that, don't you?...You can't win, even if you whip us.  You'll still be where you were before--at the bottom.  And we'll still be the lucky ones with all the breaks.  So it doesn't do any good, the fighting and killing.  It doesn't prove anything.  We'll forget it if you win, or if you don't.  Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs...So I'd fight if I thought it'd do any good..."

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