Violence: Bullying, Abuse, and Suicide
Violence is present throughout the pages of the novel. The Outsiders is a painful look at violence, including bullying, gang fights, abuse, and suicide. “Bullying has long been considered an inevitable and, in some ways, uncontrollable part of growing up” (Ericson, 2001, para. 1). Ponyboy describes Johnny as “a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times…with a nervous, suspicious look in his eyes” (Hinton, 1967, p. 11). Ponyboy explains that he was “jumped” by Socs and beaten to the point of unconsciousness, before being found by the other gang members. The affect this incident has on Johnny is as timeless as the novel itself. In fact, according to a report by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) it is estimated that 1.6 million children in sixth through tenth grade are bullied at least once a week and a staggering 1.7 million claim to bully others regularly (Ericson, 2001).
As Ponyboy walks out of the movie, he begins to chastise himself for not using his head rather than be a walking target for the Socs. Naturally it does not take long for the Socs to ascend on him and attack. Ponyboy is lucky that his friends arrive in time to save him from any real injury. However the implication for long-term bullying is the probability for retaliation will grow, as was discovered in 1999 when two young men walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and shot thirteen people amid allegations of bullying (Ericson, 2001). According to The American Association of Psychologists, it is reported that there are over 160,000 students that miss school due to fear of bullying each day in the U S (as cited in Levinson & Levinson, 2005). Just a...
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...ults in the novel gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of these young boys and the depth of their despair caused by their circumstances. Although Hinton claims to have not been a victim of such violence she certainly was an astute observer to write such a clear and accurate indictment of violence experienced by so many. At the end of the novel, the reader is left to deal with the death of Johnny. Dally seems to have experienced a complete mental break down with the knowledge that he was unable to save Johnny. His first reaction is one of violence; he robs a store and brandishes a weapon that is not loaded. This scene seems to be, as Ponyboy later confirms, Dally’s inability to deal with the loss of Johnny, proving violence begets violence in a cruel cycle. “He died violent and young and desperate, just like we all knew he’d die someday” (Hinton, 1967, p. 162).
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