Discussion Topic

Setting, characters, and point of view in The Outsiders, chapters 1-4


In The Outsiders, chapters 1-4, the setting is Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the 1960s. The main characters introduced are Ponyboy Curtis, his brothers Darry and Sodapop, and his gang, the Greasers. Key rival characters include the Socs, particularly Bob Sheldon. The story is narrated from the first-person point of view of Ponyboy, offering a personal perspective on the conflicts and themes.

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In The Outsiders, what is the setting, who are the characters, and whose point of view is chapters 2-4 told in?

The Outsiders” is set in what seems to be a semi-urban setting in Oklahoma during the 1950s.  There are two different groups of characters – the Greasers and the Socs.  The Greasers include Ponyboy, SodaPop, and Darryl Curtis, Dallas Winston, Johnny Cade, Two-Bit, and Steve Randle.  The Socs include Cherry Valence, Marcia, and Bob.  These two groups do not get along although Ponyboy and Cherry do seem to become friends partially through the novel.  The story is told through the point of view of Ponyboy Curtis, a fourteen year old greaser who is being brought up by his two older brothers after his parents were killed in a car accident.  This point of view, first person POV through the eyes of Ponyboy, continues throughout the story.

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What is the setting in chapter 2 of The Outsiders?

In chapter 2, Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dallas (Dally) sneak into the Nightly Double drive-in movie theatre, even though admission is just twenty-five cents, because Dally hates doing anything by the rules. They sit by the concession stand, where they run into Cherry Valance and her friend Marcia, who have left their boyfriends in the car because the boys want to drink. Dally mocks them nastily, but then buys them sodas to try to appease them. Insulted and furious, Cherry hurls her soda in Dally's face. Luckily, Johnny steps in to try to calm Dally down and defuse the situation. Dally storms off as Two-Bit arrives and starts chatting with Marcia.

Cherry starts to ask Ponyboy about Johnny. She can tell that he's been "hurt bad" before, so Ponyboy explains that a few months earlier Johnny had been viciously beaten by a group of Socs. Johnny was terrified; he had sworn to never walk alone again and threatened to kill anyone who tried to jump him. Johnny's beating upsets Cherry, and she is quick to tell Ponyboy that not all Socs are like the ones who attacked Johnny and concedes that not all Greasers are like Dallas. She tells Ponyboy that Socs have their own struggles as well.

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What is the setting in chapters 1-4 of The Outsiders?

Although author Susan E. Hinton never reveals the exact setting of her novel, The Outsiders, it is believed to be that of Tulsa, Oklahoma--Hinton's home as a teenager. The gang of greasers spend most of their time on the streets, with the drive-in theatre as one of their primary diversions. At the drive-in, the boys meet their friends, hit on girls, get in fights, and even watch a little of the movie. When the three boys--Pony, Johnny and Two-Bit--escort the two girls back to Two-Bit's house to retrieve his car, they are accosted by a group of Socs in the blue Mustang. After the girls leave in the Mustang, Pony and Johnny head home. The boys' homes are in a lower-class neighborhood, far from those of the Socs' wealthy parents. Both Johnny and Pony decide not to go home; Johnny's parents are fighting, and Darry hits Pony when he comes home late. They head to another one of their stomping grounds--the nearby park, which is greaser territory and off-limits to the Socs. However, the Socs in the blue Mustang cruise by and decide to confront the two greasers. Pony's and Johnny's lives will change drastically afterward.

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