What are five metaphors and similes in The Outsiders?

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The five metaphors and similes in The Outsiders include: the comparison of Greasers to hoods, Ponyboy feeling like a "bump on a log" when surrounded by Socs, Darry's eyes being akin to "two pieces of pale blue-green ice", Ponyboy bleeding "like a stuck pig", and Ponyboy being as white as he felt and shaking "like a leaf". Metaphorically, Ponyboy is described as "supposed to be the deep one" and having his "nose in a book", while Johnny is seen as "everyone's kid brother".

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Early in chapter one, Ponyboy is attempting to tell his readers a little bit about himself.  He describes himself, and several members of the Greaser gang.  At one point, Pony describes the gang as a whole.  He says the following:

Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.

By page five, Ponyboy's narrative description is interrupted, because a group of Socs have cornered him.  Pony isn't sure what to do, so he says this:

So I stood there like a bump on a log while they surrounded me.

Ponyboy gets saved from a major altercation by his brother Darry. Pony's description of Darry's eyes is probably one of the most famous lines from the entire book.  

He's got eyes that are like two pieces of pale blue-green ice.

Sodapop also shows up to help out Ponyboy, and through his dialogue, the reader learns that Ponyboy didn't come through the Soc encounter completely unscathed.  

"You're bleedin' like a stuck pig."

One last simile.

I knew I was as white as I felt and I was shaking like a leaf.

As for a metaphor, it works the same way as a simile.  It makes a comparison between two things in order to highlight some characteristic about one or both items.  The big difference is that a metaphor can't use "like" or "as."  Johnny's final note that Pony reads at the end of the novel contains a few great metaphors.  

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. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn.

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In The Outsiders, S E Hinton uses figurative language and symbolism to reflect the environment in which the "Socs" and the "greasers" live. The characters are mostly hard and street-wise but Ponyboy, who is "supposed to be the deep one," is a little different. He is diligent and, as Dally says of him, "Always having his nose in a book." These are metaphors relating to Ponyboy's intelligence and love of reading, something unusual for gang members. Ponyboy's ability to rise above his circumstances and not let them define him is an enduring theme throughout. 

Dally is a typical gang member, arrested by the police by the age of ten. He is tougher than the other boys. His tough and seemingly callous facade will lead to his tragic death. Ponyboy is very wary of Dally whose eyes are, "Blue, blazing ice, cold with a hatred of the whole world." This is a metaphor and the reader has no doubt about Dally's character. However, Dally will reveal that his seemingly hard exterior has another side to it when he becomes a most unlikely hero, although he is unable to save Johnny. 

Johnny is described as, "Everyone's kid brother," suggesting that each member looks out for him and feels partly responsible for him, especially as he is shy and anxious and even "scared of his own shadow." He attributes a deeper meaning to Robert Frost's words in the poem Nothing God Can Stay when he tells Ponyboy to "stay gold." Johnny desperately hopes that his friend can stay true to who he is and retain his good nature, believing in the basic goodness of people and not judging them on appearances. 

There are many comparisons in the book by way of metaphor and simile and they all add depth to the characters, ensuring that the reader sees far more than gangsters and fights and does not judge them but recognizes their own struggles. Ponyboy can only hope to express himself and help others in a non-violent way, "before it was too late."

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  • They were all as tough as nails... (Chapter 1). Pony is describing the Socs that attacked him, comparing their toughness to iron or steel.
  • Soda attracted girls like honey draws flies... (Chapter 1). Pony is comparing his ability to attract girls to the way flies are drawn to honey.
  • He was as wild as the boys in the downtown outfits... (Chapter 1). This description of Dallas Winston compares his wildness with the tougher inner city gangs.
  • ... he looked like some Greek god come to earth  (Chapter 1). Pony is comparing Soda's good looks to that of a god.
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What metaphors are used in The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton?

By definition, a metaphor is something that offers a comparison of two, seemingly unlikely things, without using the words, 'like' or 'as'. In The Outsiders, metaphors are prevalently used.

One of the most memorable metaphors in the novel happens in Chapter Five, where Johnny and Pony are discussing their looks. Pony quipps about their appearances being a Halloween costume that neither he nor Johnny can remove. Johnny retorted with

...it's our looks or us

In the above metaphor, Johnny compares their Greaser look with their lives in general. This metaphor speaks directly to one of the central conflicts in the novel, person versus self. By making the statement, Johnny also asserts that the boys can be separated from what they represent with their looks.

Another metaphorical example occurs again in Chapter 5 as Pony explains his understanding of the gang. Pony states,

Dally was real.

This metaphor must be explained in the context of the story. Immediately preceding the above quote, Pony explicates that he finally understands Johnny's "hero-worship" of Dally. He then goes on to compare Soda, Two- bit, and Darry to the heroes in the novels that he reads. He acknowledges that those guys all have shining, somewhat fictional, qualities about them. However, Dally represents the reality that scares Pony. He represents the reality that Pony often wants to escape in his reading of fictional heroes.

Another example of a metaphor in the novel comes from Chapter Six, as Pony describes Johnny's features and what makes others drawn to him. He states,

I don't know what it was about Johnny--maybe that lost-puppy look....

This metaphor compares Johnny to a lost puppy. If you are a dog lover, you get the reference. If not, this metaphor essentially shows Johnny's sweet, innocent, and engaging appeal--which draws a person into him--and makes them want to take care of his needs.

The last metaphor I'll discuss is one of the more famous lines from the book. In this line, Johnny is in the hospital about to die, and he tells Pony to "stay gold." The metaphor is comparing Pony to the value of gold. It also makes a loose connection to the book's consistent references of gold being favorable, desired, and authentic. Thus, Johnny has attributed all of those qualities to his friend Pony. He believes that Pony is invaluable, desired, and authentic. He wants Pony to understand that about himself, and recognize his own, inherent worth; both as a person and as a member of the Greaser gang. The metaphor is also an allusion to a Robert Frost poem which denotes the beauty of nature as being gold. It helps to consider how Pony sees sunsets, and the value that he places on nature alone. Then, consider the images of sunsets as you consider Johnny's request for Pony to stay gold.

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