The Outsiders Essay Title

S.E. Hinton included no titles for her chapters, yet each one has a basic theme and series of events which could be summarized in a short phrase. Here are potential titles for chapters 10 through 12.

Chapter 10: "One Hero, One Hoodlum"—Throughout this chapter Ponyboy is occupied with thoughts of Johnny and Dally. Johnny had died in the hospital in chapter nine and Dally is killed by police under a streetlight not far from Ponyboy's house in this chapter. Ponyboy witnesses both deaths, but throughout the chapter he refuses to think of his two good friends as dead. The title is reflective of the two boys. Johnny had been considered a hero by the local newspaper which wrote an editorial praising Johnny's bravery in the rescue of the children from the church fire. Dally goes out a simple hoodlum who has just robbed a grocery store and seems to be begging for a fight and maybe even his own death as he challenges the police with a handgun.

Chapter 11: "Thinking of Bob"—At the beginning of this chapter Ponyboy is looking through some of Sodapop's old yearbooks when he comes across a picture of Bob Sheldon, the Soc who was killed by Johnny. Ponyboy begins to reflect on Bob and thinks of what Cherry Valance had said about him and how much she liked him. He begins to realize that Bob was just a kid not unlike Ponyboy and his brothers. Throughout the chapter he is also in denial about Johnny's death and continues to believe that he was the one who killed Bob and not Johnny. Even Randy's visit and assurance that he clearly saw Johnny kill Bob can't dissuade Ponyboy from believing that his friend was innocent.

Chapter 12: "Paul Newman and a Ride Home"—In this chapter Ponyboy goes to court and the judge rules that the three brothers can stay together. At first, Ponyboy is still upset and depressed about past events. He stops eating and is doing poorly in school. He is not at all like himself. Four things, however, bring him out of his trauma. First, he overcomes his fear of the Socs by standing up to them during lunch at the neighborhood grocery store. Second, he gets support and a second chance from his English teacher, who agrees to forgive Ponyboy's missing assignments if he writes a good theme paper. Third, he begins to see Sodapop as a real person and not just an idol as he realizes what his constant bickering with Darry is doing to his middle brother. In the end, the three brothers are united. Fourth, he finally picks up the copy of Gone With the Wind he and Johnny had bought in Windrixville with the note form Johnny urging Ponyboy to stay gold and hold on to his innocence and youth. It is then that he starts on his theme paper, which is the book itself, beginning and ending with a reference to Paul Newman and a ride home from the movies. The allusion to the beginning of the novel is symbolic in that Ponyboy's life will return to some normalcy and he will still be the smart, dreamy kid that is introduced in the opening lines of the novel.

The title of the book refers to the social position of the Greasers, Ponyboy's "gang".  Handicapped by their lower socio-economic status, the Greasers are looked down upon; shut out from the advantages that are open to their more wealthy counterparts, the Socs.  Although members of both groups get in trouble - the Socs "jump Greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks", while the Greasers "steal things...and rob gas stations and have a gang fight once in awhile" - the Greasers are more frequently identified by their transgressions against the law because they come from "the wrong side of the tracks".  They are the "outsiders", the ones for whom access to opportunity is perpetually more complicated, because of preconceptions and stereotypes (Chapter 1).

One of the central themes of the story, however, is that, underneath it all, the Greasers and the Socs are more alike than they are different.  As Cherry Valance observes to Ponyboy, "things are tough all over", and, after talking with her, Ponyboy realizes that there are individual differences within both groups, and, despite the gulf that separates the classes, they all "see the same sunset" (Chapter 2).

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