Notes on The Outsiders Themes

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The Outsiders Topic Tracking: Innocence

Chapter 1

Innocence 1: Ponyboy is very innocent and immature. He tries to figure out why Socs and Greasers fight, why his brother is overworked, and why they don't have any money. He does not understand any of these complex issues. He feels uncomfortable around girls. He wants to fit in with his gang but he doesn't like some of the things greasers do. When Socs attack him, he is helpless.

Chapter 2

Innocence 2: In his innocence, Ponyboy believes that the Socs are different and more privileged than the greasers. When Cherry Valance tries to tell him that Socs have problems too, he doesn't believe her. By the end of the chapter, however, he lets the reader know that he knows more about these subjects than he used to.

Chapter 3

Innocence 3: Pony bitterly remembers a time when he was so innocent he thought he could buy Mickey Mouse back for Soda. In a way, he seems to wish that he had always been tough and cynical, so he never would have been hurt.

Innocence 4: Two-Bit is no innocent: he knows that no matter how much Marcia might like him, they can never date, because they are too different. He will always be a greaser, and she will always be a Soc. He can have fun with her for an evening, but unlike Ponyboy with Cherry, he does not seem to care when he has to say goodbye to her for good.

Chapter 4

Innocence 5: At the age of sixteen, Johnny is a murderer. Ponyboy knows that Johnny would never have hurt anyone, until he was nearly beaten to death by Bob and his friends. When he meets Bob again, he kills him. Fear and anger have taken the innocence he was once able to hold onto, despite his unhappy home.

Chapter 8

Innocence 6: Johnny is just experienced enough to know how innocent he is about so many things. He doesn't want to die before he can experience those things, but he is not innocent enough to think that he will be able to. He knows he is going to die while he is still young, before he has really learned or seen anything, and it seems very unfair to him.

Chapter 9

Innocence 7: Johnny realizes that Ponyboy is innocent in a way that none of the other boys can be. Not naïve or stupid, but innocent. He believes that the Socs and the greasers could get along if they just talked to each other. He believes the fighting doesn't have to go on forever, and he talks to Cherry and Randy as friends. He even understands that Bob wasn't entirely bad. He has a childlike view of the world, and Johnny wants him to stay that way.

Chapter 10

Innocence 8: In his innocence, Ponyboy thinks that by ignoring the fact that Johnny and Dallas are dead, he can change reality. Especially after he gets sick, he convinces himself that as long as he doesn't think about it, it won't be true.

Chapter 11

Innocence 9: Randy is innocent about how hard life can be. He assumes that the worst that could happen to Ponyboy is what might happen to him: he will make his parents angry or sad. When he hears that Ponyboy might be taken away from his only family, and be forced to live in someone else's house, he is shocked.

Chapter 12

Innocence 10: Ponyboy loses his innocent, immature desire to pretend that his friends haven't died. He accepts it, losing his innocence, but not his hope. Terrible things do happen, he now understands, but they can have good effects. Ponyboy decides to try to change things, rather than hide from the truth.

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