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Characters in 'the Outsiders' Grow and Change as a Result of Their Experiences.

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Submitted By xxcalumxx
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The Outsiders is a novel of conflicts - greasers against Socs, rich against poor, based on realistic events set in the sixties in the town of Tulsa, Oklahoma and was written by female author, S.E Hinton, in 1967. In this novel, Hinton elucidates that friendship becomes the most vital value in a world where parental influence is scarce and violence seems to be the only answer. It also illustrates how everyone experiences hardships and challenges in their lives despite social status. Johnny Cade is the gang’s pet. He is only 16 years old, but has already been beaten down by the cruelty of life and his abusive parents. The theme of family love is clarified by Johnny many times, because his fearful eyes have seen what family love isn't. Johnny begins as a meek and fearful boy but a turn of events changes his attitude toward life. Some moments that exemplify Johnny’s change was the murder of Bob, saving children from a church fire and his calm determination when faced with death.

One of the ways in which Johnny shows elements of change is when he killed the Soc, Robert ‘Bob’ Sheldon. When Bob almost drowned Ponyboy in a park fountain, Johnny stabbed Bob with his switchblade as an act of self defence. Johnny wouldn’t let anything happen to any of his friends, especially his closest friend Ponyboy. “I had to. They were drowning you, Pony. They might have killed you.” This example shows that Johnny would not tolerate others bullying his friends, and wouldn’t be a bystander, when he could do something about the situation.

Another event in the novel that reveals Johnny’s change is when risks his own life to save children from a burning church. Johnny and Ponyboy return to Jay Mountain from lunch to see that the church they were staying at was on fire. When they hear children’s screams from inside the church, they think that they started the fire, and immediately run in to save the children. Inside the church, Pony notices that Johnny doesn't seem like the shy, scared boy he usually is. "That was the only time I can think of when I saw him without that defeated, suspicious look in his eyes." This event shows that Johnny was truly a heroic and gallant teenager, and not just a reserved, nervous boy.

An additional event where Johnny tries to change is when he faces his death with calm determination. After receiving third degree burns from rescuing the children from the church fire, Johnny was hospitalised an was unlikely to survive. Johnny knew that he didn’t have much longer to live, but this didn’t make him regret his courageous actions at Jay Mountain. “I don't mind dying now. It's worth it. It's worth saving those kids. Their lives are worth more than mine, they have more to live for.” This example proves that Johnny would be willing to put others lives in the place of his, despite the consequences.

And so, it is evident that Johnny had many moments where he displayed change and growth: the murder of Bob, saving the children and facing his death calmly. Johnny never really got the opportunity to change dramatically in the novel as his harrowing death took away this possibility. Nevertheless, I believe Johnny began to show aspects of heroism and assertiveness that would’ve seen him mature into a young leader. S.E Hinton’s novel The Outsiders is a sentimental yet ethical story. However with the inclusion of Johnny, Hinton reminds us of the importance of individuality and the ability to be ourselves and to stay gold.…...

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