‘Explain how a character helped you to understand a key theme.’
The Outsiders is a book that was written in 1967 by S.E Hinton, who was only 15 at the time. There was a film adaption of the book made in 1983, it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. There are many key themes in the book however this essay is going to be discussing ‘coming of age’. Coming of age is the transition between childhood and adulthood. Ponyboy shows coming of age on several occasions throughout the novel, an example of this is when he gets confronted by some Socs at the end of the novel trying to threaten him. There are other examples such as when Johnny dies. Ponyboy helps us to understand what coming of age is and what it stands for.
Ponyboy gets jumped by some Socs while leaving the theatres after watching a movie. Ponyboy is walking home when a blue mustang pulls up next to him and out jump a group of Socs, they aggressively and violently attack him. The Socs assault him, suddenly they all flee. Darry and some of Pony’s gang turn up, they chase off the Socs. The ordeal left Ponyboy with a deep cut on his forehead from the blade of the Soc, however nothing more. Ponyboy felt emotionally weak and he felt like crying, but he knew he had no reason to cry. Ponyboy stated in the book “You just don’t cry in front of Darry. Not unless you’re hurt like Johnny had been that day we found him in the vacant lot. Compared to Johnny I wasn’t hurt at all.” Ponyboy was able to prevent himself from crying and showed self control. Ponyboy was able to stay strong and wipe the tears away was a sign of maturity and courage. This had a small effect on Ponyboy and his journey to adulthood. This scene showed Ponyboy was coming of age.
In the book; Johnny, Ponyboys close friend Johnny dies. This has a profound effect on him. Ponyboy had experienced a lot of pain and troubles, he had seen Bob get killed, he had been jumped and he lost his parents when he was younger. Losing Johnny affected him because they were both very close and had both been through tough times together. The tough times they had been through and faced made losing Johnny even harder for Ponyboy. Ponyboy had been through a lot of mental and emotional hardship, this has helped him develop into a more mature, emotionally stable teenager. This is part of his transition into adulthood, and he shows coming of age.
At the end of the novel, Ponyboy is confronted by some hostile and aggressive Socs. They threaten Ponyboy and accuse him of killing Bob. Ponyboy smashes his glass bottle he was drinking out of and points the broken glass towards the Socs and walks towards them in a aggressive, threatening manner. The Socs flee, they were not expecting Ponyboy to react the way he did. At the start of the novel Ponyboy is a young teenager who is scared of getting hurt, scared of pain, and scared of death. Ponyboy shows that he has changed throughout the novel, he showed resilience and fortitude. Everything in the novel leads up to this point, it all helps him mature emotionally. He accepts that life is not fair, life is tough but he does not let it affect him. He shows the audience he has matured and come of age.
Ponyboy faced many challenges and struggles throughout his journey, all of these push him to his mental and emotional limits. All this hardship helps him mature. Ponyboy shows perseverance and fortitude throughout the book, this helps him mature and become mentally stronger. He shows us many times throughout the book that he has matured and come of age. Ponyboy helps the audience understand what coming of age is and what causes it.