by S.E. Hinton
The Outsiders Theme of Loyalty
Loyalty is a point of pride, honor, and principle for Ponyboy Curtis, star player in The Outsiders. He doesn't like some of the people in his gang, especially dangerous Dallas Winston, but he would still do anything for Dallas and would defend him from danger if possible. Loyalty, according to Ponyboy, is the thread that holds his gang together. It cuts across their differences. They're loyal to each other because they know each other well, have grown up together, and have faced hard times together. In the case of the Curtis boys, their loyalty is because they are brothers, and orphaned brothers at that. The novel explores what happens when Ponyboy and his oldest brother begin to lose this loyalty for one another, under the strain of their lives.
Questions About Loyalty
- Why does Ponyboy consider loyalty such an important quality for group members to have? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
- What are some displays of loyalty seen in the novel?
- Does Darry decide to raise Pony and Soda out of loyalty, love, a combination of the two, or some other factor entirely?
- After Bob gets killed, the other boys flee the park. Does this speak to their loyalties? What might it say about them? Would Pony or any member of his gang ever leave a man behind, dead or alive?
- Do any of the characters have divided or conflicting loyalties? If so, which characters and how are their loyalties divided or in conflict?
Chew on This
Cherry is torn between loyalty to the Socials (and the memory of Bob) and her newfound loyalty to Ponyboy and the Greasers, yet she manages to resolve the conflict using honesty and courage.
Darry's loyalty to his brothers is founded in deep love for them.