The novel The Outsiders takes place in a four primarily locations; the Curtis’ home, the old church on the outskirts of town, the park between the Socs and the Greases territory and the local hospital. The descriptions of all these areas are of poor areas where those living in them have to work harder than those in other areas of own in order to get by.
This story is about an untraditional family of Greasers who a forced to defend themselves in life altering ways against the Socs in town. The family of Greasers contains three brothers, Ponyboy, Sodapop and their eldest brother and caregiver Darrel “Darry” Curtis; and their closest friends that are considered brothers, Johnny Cade, Dallas “Dally” Winston, Keith “Two-Bit” Mathews and Steve Randle. The story follows Ponyboy and Johnny through the ups and downs of facing a gang attack by the Socs and the tragic results of that fight. Using this story line the other characters lives intertwine with these two characters displaying the family dynamics and how they all rely on one another in varying ways. A romantic twist shows part of the coming of age for Ponyboy and what effect a relationship or even a friendship can have on those around you.
The Greasers dominated the characters in book but still continued to interact with the Socs. Of the Greasers, the main characters were Ponyboy, Sodapop, Darry, Johnn, Dally, Two-Bit and Steve. Together they stood united, willing to do whatever was necessary to protect each other. There were other Greaser gangs in the area such as the Brumly Outcasts who would defend themselves against Socs but would also fight another Greaser (Hinton, 140). Together they build a family that at times lives as one, will always be there for one another in a tough situation and can tell each other anything without fear.
Of the Socs, there were two that were three that in the end were willing to make peace and did not want to fight. Cherry Valance and Marcia were the girls who the fight was over between Johnny, Ponyboy, Bob, Randy and David. Randy’s attempt to drown Ponyboy is what caused Johnny to stab Bob in order to free himself and help his friend (Hinton, 56). It was not until the end of the novel that Randy realized these gangs are not a world that he wants to be apart of and does not participate in the rumble (Hinton, 115). It is these relationships that influence the decisions made throughout the novel as well as who dies and who lives.
This a story that I have read and re-read since I was fourteen and will very likely read again. The first time I read this novel in full, when Johnny died, I broke down and cried. He was the “glue that held the gang together” and I knew, as did the characters in the novel, that they would never be the same again. I was mad and didn’t fully understand why Johnny had to die: he had a hard life at home, friends who loved him and everything he’d done was in self-defence (Hinton, 56). It is now that I read it with a different understanding of the world we live in and a new perception of the book that I see he had to die. If he didn’t the Curtis brothers would not have become as close as they did in the end, the rumbles would continue because Johnny killed Bob. I felt that as painful as it was to loose Johnny, even knowing it was coming, it would set off a sequence of events that needed to occur in this small and angry town. The death of Dally was tragic but understandable to the story. I wanted him to come out stronger from what he had gone through, to start over and to be the man that Johnny saw when he looked at him but it was not in his nature to change and without the anchor that Johnny provided him with, he was unable to contemplate living in such a world.