Study Guide

The Outsiders Choices

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Chapter 1
Sodapop Curtis

"Leave my kid brother alone, you hear! It ain't his fault he likes to go to the movies, and it ain't his fault the Socs like to jump us, and if he had been good at carryin' a blade it would have been a good excuse to cut him to ribbons. (1.61)

Soda has a point – Pony seems to be in an impossible situation in which every choice he makes is a wrong one. Whenever a powerful group is actively persecuting another less powerful group, you will find such dilemmas.

Chapter 2
Sherri Valance

"It's not my idea of a good time to sit in a drive-in and watch people get drunk" (2.71)

Cherry has decided to keep alcohol out of her life, even if it means going to the movies without her boyfriend. Later in the novel, she blames alcohol for Bob's violence. Do you think she's right?

Chapter 4
Ponyboy Curtis

"You know what a Soc is? I said, my voice trembling with rage. "White trash with Mustangs and madras." And then, because I couldn't think of anything bad enough to call them, I spit at them. (4.16)

If Pony had chosen not to provoke the Socs with his words, could the tragedy have been avoided? It's hard to say. Likely, nothing Pony could have said would've stopped these guys. After all, they were already angry that Johnny and Pony were with Marcia and Cherry earlier that day.

Chapter 6
Johnny Cade

"I'm sure. It ain't fair for Ponyboy to have to stay up in that church with Soda and Darry worryin' about him all the time." (6.17)

Before the fire, Johnny makes the brave decision to turn himself in. The fact that he takes the needs of Pony, Darry, and Soda into account in his decision shows how what a thoughtful person he's growing into.

All I could think was: We started it. We started it. We started it! (6.42)

We don't know for sure if Pony and Johnny's cigarettes started the fire, but it's obvious that this fear helps push Pony to save the kids. We suspect he would have done so anyway, though.

Chapter 9

I'd hate to see the day when I had to get my nerve from a can. (9.45)

Like Cherry, Pony is making the decision to stay away from alcohol. He really doesn't like seeing Two-Bit drinking to prepare for the rumble. Still, Pony might be assuming some things – Two-Bit's reasons for drinking are probably complicated.

Chapter 12

Darry and I would probably still have misunderstandings – we were too different not to – but no more fights. We couldn't do anything to hurt Soda. (12.57)

Instead of blindly thrashing out at each other, Darry and Pony make a conscious decision not to fight. They are motivated by Soda's needs, but the choice will ultimately benefit all of them.

Sodapop Curtis

"I mean I can't take sides. It'd be a lot easier if I could be I see both sides. (12.51)

Pony and Darry learn what a terrible position they're putting Soda in, always asking him to choose between them. We can dominate people by the choices we ask them to make. If the choices aren't fair, somebody will get hurt.

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