How does the poem 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' apply to the lives of Ponyboy, Johnny, and the Greasers?

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In "Nothing Gold Can Stay," Robert Frost suggests that nothing beautiful, pure, and fresh can remain that way.  The first line of the poem states that "Nature's first green is gold," and the rest of the poem indicates that anything especially lovely lasts only a very short time, and then gives way to something else ("The leaf subsides to leaf...So dawn goes down to day."), something less.

This idea very much applies to the lives of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade, and the other Greasers.  Johnny Cade is beautiful in many ways; despite being abused by his parents, he is loving and wants to be loved.  Johnny's life was fragile and did not last long.  He was "gold."  Ponyboy Curtis is innocent and naive, but his eyes are opened to a great deal of truths throughout the novel, and he loses his innocence and naivete, or "greenness." 

Each of the other members of the Greasers has experienced something akin to those changes. Dally Winston is prime example of Frost's idea that "Nothing gold can stay."  If he had been nurtured, protected, and loved, Dally would not have had to harden himself in order to survive; although there is still good in Dally (his love for Johnny), he was not allowed to stay young and "pure," so he lost his green/gold very early on.

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In The Outsiders, what does the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" mean and how does it portray the characteristics of Johnny and Ponyboy?

Johnny and Ponyboy are young and innocent, or “gold” at the beginning of the story. Since “nothing gold can stay” they lose their innocence.

The poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is a poem about nature and life by Robert Frost.

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold. (lines 1-2)

Green means youth in nature, and Frost is commenting that youth is valuable. However, it is also the hardest color to hang on to. Green does not last. Youth will always be corrupted.

When Johnny and Ponyboy see the beautiful gold of the country, Ponyboy comments that he read a poem about nothing gold being able to stay. This symbolizes the boys’ youth and innocence and how they were not able to hold onto it.

"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold..." The pillow seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.

Johnny is asking Ponyboy to stay good, despite the difficulty of doing so in a society where everything seems to work against them.

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In The Outsiders, what does the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" mean and how does it portray the characteristics of Johnny and Ponyboy?

This means that goodness and innocence cannot last. The sensitive Johnny suffers a grim death and Ponyboy, the young naive narrator, is forced to learn about conflict and violence.

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In The Outsiders, how is “Nothing Gold Can Stay" relevant to Ponyboy and Johnny’s story?

It is important to realise that one of the central themes of this excellent novel is that of childhood and growth. Ponyboy, as the youngest member of the gang of Greasers of which he is a part, is surrounded by a number of people who have grown into bad examples. Throughout the novel we always have in the back of our heads a concern about what Ponyboy is going to grow into, and whether he will be able to escape the many factors ranged against him and make something of his life. This issue is directly related to the Frost poem:

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Looking closely at this poem it is clear that this is all about the theme of growing up. Nature is used as an analogy for the innocence of childhood and how it is lost with time. The "first green" is actually "gold," but this is only very temporary. The final line, "Nothing gold can stay," reflects the inevitable loss of innocence that all of us face as we grow and mature.

Note how Johnny in his final letter to Ponyboy expresses his interpretation:

...he meant you're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep that way, it's a good way to be.

The poem thus concerns the struggle in all of us to retain some of our "golden hue" before "leaf subsides to leaf" and we lose our innocence and child-like wonder of the world completely. The Frost poem helps reinforce the central message of the novel, which is based around the series of choices that we have to make that will decide who we will become when we are older.

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In the novel The Outsiders, what is the significance of the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" in relation to Ponyboy and Johnny's lives?

In Chapter 5, Ponyboy wakes up early one morning and sits outside to watch the sunrise. Johnny follows him outside and comments on how beautiful the colors of the sunrise blend together. He says, "The mist was what was pretty...All gold and silver" (Hinton 66). Johnny then comments on how it is a shame that the sky cannot always remain so picturesque, which reminds Ponyboy of the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay." Ponyboy recites the poem but mentions that he doesn't understand its deeper meaning. The poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" highlights the transience of youth, innocence, and life. Frost depicts the impermanence of nature and humanity throughout the poem which corresponds to both Ponyboy and Johnny's lives. Johnny's life and Ponyboy's innocence are short-lived and can be symbolized by the leaves in the poem. Johnny was a magnanimous individual who was well-liked by his group of peers. Johnny's life was essentially "golden," but it did not last for long. Similar to Johnny's metaphorical "golden" life, Ponyboy's innocence made him a pure individual, which was also short-lived. Frost's poem symbolically represents both Ponyboy's temporary innocence and Johnny's brief life throughout the novel.




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