Change and Stability
As Jay Daly notes, throughout S E. Hinton's novel Tex, the narrator, Tex McCormick, divides the people he meets into two groups: those who go and those who stay. In the beginning, this seems like a straightforward division, but by the end of the novel, it is clear that the question of whether to go or to stay is a complex one.
Not only is it difficult for the characters to choose whether to go or to stay, it is clear by the end of the novel that sometimes the only way to stay somewhere emotionally is physically to go. Through Tex's ruminations on the differences between those who stay and those who go, Hinton's themes of change and stability emerge.
Tex knows that he is a "stayer"—that he will probably always remain in his hometown. In part, this is because he enjoys rural life, particularly working with horses, which he calls the "best high" he knows. He has experienced true communion with his horse Negrito, whom he treats like a human. Tex prefers the joys of the country to the temptations of the city, saying that"
Me, I liked living in the country and some of the other kids liked it, too. Some of them pretended they did because they couldn't live anywhere else. Then you had the people like Mason, who were itching to stay out. I couldn't quite figure out why.
Throughout the novel, Tex identifies his brother Mason as a "goer." Mason expresses his dissatisfaction with their life in the country, hoping for a basketball scholarship in order to get out of town. Tex is worried about Mason's desire to leave; he is the only stable element of Tex's life, once Tex's horse Negrito is sold Mason takes care of Tex, worries about him, and supports him.
By contrast, Tex loses his girlfriend Jamie because he wants to get closer, both physically and emotionally, than she wants. The other Collins kids are discouraged from seeing Tex and Mason by their father, Cole.
Tex's mother is dead, and his father isn't around much. When Pop is around, he indulges Tex, which Mason sees as evidence of Pop's lack of concern for the kid. When Tex gets in trouble at school, Mason punishes him Pop is amused by Tex's behavior, especially since Tex was mimicking something Pop had done when he was a boy. Mason is disgusted by what he sees as Pop's lack of concern, as Tex notes:
I couldn't see what else he could do, besides take it calmly, but Mason was absolutely enraged.
"Okay," he stalked around the room like a frenzied panther. "Okay, so you can't take Tex serums. So you can't give a damn about what happens to him. All right, I'm trying to live with that. Then think about me! For God's sake, how do you think I feel, seeing you being 'nice' to him, like you'd be nice to a goddamn stray puppy'. While I'm the one who has to look out for him and what's going to happen when I'm not here?"
Pop and I were both staring at him I was ready to call in the straight jacket people.
"Geez, make it easier on me if nothing else! He is my brother even if he isn't your son!"
Tex is stunned by this news, but it makes sense to him emotionally. When he lies in the hospital after being shot, he asks Pop if the reason he clearly favored Mason was...
(The entire section is 1352 words.)