Study Guide

The Outsiders Appearances

By S.E. Hinton

Appearances

Chapter 1

They were the only kind of girls that would look at us, I thought. Tough, loud girls who wore too much eye makeup and giggled and swore too much. (1.76)

Pony judges girls by their appearances, and seems to want these Greaser girls to be more like Social girls.

[…] we wear our hair long and dress in blue jeans and T-shirts, or leave our shirttails out and wear leather jackets and tennis shoes or boots. I'm not saying that either Socs or Greasers are better; that's just the way things are. (1.5)

In Ponyboy's town, the way you dress defines what social group you belong to. It's an expression of group identity.

[…] I wondered what other girls were like. The girls who were bright-eyed and had their dresses a decent length and acted as if they'd like to spit on us if given a chance. (1.76)

This statement suggests that the girls who look nice don't act very nice. But, this is the look Pony is attracted to at the time. So he's engaging in the very practice he hates so much when it's applied to him as a Greaser – judging by appearance and superficial qualities.

Chapter 2

You could tell by the way she said it that her idea of a good time was probably high class, and probably expensive. (2.80)

We aren't sure whether it's her body language, her eyes, or her voice that lead him to this conclusion. What do you think Pony might have in mind? Is he judging her unfairly?

Chapter 3
Ponyboy Curtis

"He's hard as a rock and about as human. He's got eyes exactly like frozen ice." (3.33)

Pony is dramatizing Darry's appearance to persuade his audience that Darry is cold and mean. He's also dramatizing it in his own mind because of the pain that Darry's actions have caused him.

Chapter 5

It was my pride. It was long and silky […]. […] Our hair labeled us greasers, too – it was our trademark. The one thing we were proud of. Maybe we couldn't have Corvairs and madras suits, but we could have hair. (5.17)

Pony is really into his hair, and he talks about it a lot. In contrast to clothes and shoes, hair is free, and naturally good hair is priceless. Interestingly, Pony's change in hair coincides with the beginning of big changes for his personality.

Chapter 8
Sherri Valance

"[Bob] had something that marked him different, maybe a little better than the crowd. Do you know what I mean?" (8.97)

I did. Cherry saw the same thing in Dallas. (8.98)

Cherry sees something special in both of these violent, dangerous boys. Does this tell us she has a generous and accepting heart? That she's fooled by appearances? Is she deep or shallow?