The title of this is story is interesting because of many things. In one way, the title refers to the social status of the Greasers being the “outsiders” of the story. This title also refers to the theme of the story, one of social and economic class conflict. This is shown in the form of the Greasers, who are categorized and perceived to be in the lower class. Whilst, the upper-class kids are perceived to be the Socs. As Ponyboy writes to us, when there is a problem, it is always perceived to us that the Greasers are outcasts of their society because of the way they are treated. Ponyboy tells us that the Socs “get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next”.
The Greasers, however, are assumed to commit the crimes and are the “go to group” to blame for every wrong. The Greasers are more frequently identified by their crimes against the law because they came from the “wrong world”. They are the “outsiders,” the ones who have a complicated process when trying to access an opportunity. However, the title gets even more interesting and sparks more of my curiosity when you see that the title is plural and not singular. This indicates that there are multiple “outsiders” in this story, because it would have been singular if it were talking about Ponyboy being isolated and feeling as if he was an outsider. Ponyboy then realizes how similar the Socs and Greasers really are.
He found this out through the many conversations he had with other Soc’s such as Cherry and Randy. He realizes that they are similar, and even though they share such different backgrounds and morales, that the Socs also experience the emotions of being outsiders too. He explains this discovery through the following, “Maybe the two different worlds we live in were not so different. We saw the same sunset”. And as the story comes to an end, Ponyboy learns that everyone is an “outsider” to something, it is just a matter of perception and perspective. This could be supported by the following, “I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows.
Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them that there was still good in it, and they wouldn’t believe you if you did. It was too vast a problem to be just a personal thing” (Hinton 152). At first we thought the title applied to just the Greasers (the obvious). But then, later in the book we learn that it applies to all young people (including the Socs). And that is what makes the title so interesting that continues to spark my curiosity.
It keeps changing its meaning as we continue to read through the book. The cover, however, did not really spark any curiosity when I first saw it. This was because It just had a picture of a person with a leather jacket (something a typical Greaser would wear). But as I continued to read through the story and looking back at the cover, I realized that it was symbolized as the Greasers and how they are perceived to be one of the many “Outsiders” of the story (therefore sparking my curiosity). The cover was also in black and white and that was probably to symbolize how black and white this book is perceived to be.
I believe that this book is black and white (metaphorically speaking) because someone is either right or wrong (there can’t be anything in between), the characters are either a Greaser or a Soc, people are either rich or poor, and they are either an insider or an outsider . On a side note, I feel as if this book was an appropriate choice for our unit; Appearances versus reality. When you take a closer look at the characters and the two different groups (Greasers and Socs), you can be able to tell that their nature of appearance is not what you always want to see when looking for their reality.
If you look at the Greasers, for example, we would think that they are a hood who have no regards about anything. But their reality very much contradicts that. If you look at each character in the Greaser “gang”, you would be able that they are only that way due to their environment and societal structure. At the same time, we perceive the Socs as these rich kids who dress nicely and own Ford-Mustangs.
But at the same time, we also think they are mean, snotty, and people who take their wealth for granted. Their reality, however, shows us that not all of the Socs are terrible people like we categorize them to be. Some people, like Cherry Valance and Randy, are not the type of people that torture the Greasers continuously (like other Socs). Some of the Greasers, like Ponyboy, create a fake appearance to hide their reality. For example, their (the Greasers) hair is everything to them. They use multiple hair products to create greasy, slick hair.
This could be shown by the following, “My hair is longer than a lot of boys wear theirs, squared off in back and long at the front and sides, but I am a greaser and most of my neighborhood rarely bothers to get a haircut”. They try to look and appear to be more expensive than they truly are. Their looks (especially their hair) make people already stereotype their personality to a typical Greaser, a heartless and tough person. This story shows us that people’s personalities and characteristics are not necessarily correlated on how they look and act around you. And that is the point our unit is trying to make us realize and learn from.