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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Society and Class

Much of the action in The Outsiders is driven by class conflict. Fourteen-year-old narrator Ponyboy's gang, the Greasers, hail from the economically struggling East Side, while the rival gang, the...

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...

Love

The Outsiders features hints of romance, but that isn't the main event. Our narrator, Ponyboy, is most interested in showing us the love between gang members and challenging family relationships. P...

Violence

The Outsiders is a very violent book. Gang violence, child abuse, stabbings, shootings – these drive the action. The novel explores the impact of living in a place where a teenager can't even...

Isolation

At the beginning of The Outsiders, young narrator Ponyboy Curtis feels isolated from the members of his gang, his brothers, and society at large. His intellectualism and his love of movies, books,...

Appearances

With a narrator as obsessed with his hair as Ponyboy Curtis is, it's no surprise that that the other characters' looks are also important to him. Clothing and hairstyles might seem like superficial...

Education

The Outsiders is what's known in fancy literary circles as a Bildungsroman, a German term that literally translates to "novel of education" (source). This usually refers to the main character's jou...

Choices

In the The Outsiders many factors limit the choices of Ponyboy and his friends, including lack of money and fear of violence. For example, Ponyboy wants to spend more time alone, in quiet contempla...
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