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The Outsiders

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The second part of The Outsiders is without a doubt where the heart of the story lies. Hinton uses the last five chapters of the book to depict modern day struggles of common teenagers. The essay looks analytically into the social and cultural aspects of teenage hood, as depicted by Hinton from chapter seven to twelve of the book. The heart of the story entails core principles of family, teenage struggles and a sense of belonging, as depicted through the boys. The constant fights that Ponyboy gets himself into help deliver a deep message which spreads across many aspects of modern day teenagers. Chapter seven, for instance, revolves around the hospital waiting room where Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Dally are interviewed by the police after the accident (Hinton, 1995, p.108). It is also after the incident that the papers portray the boys as heroes after their daring attempts to save the children. Ponyboy, after a talk with Randy, also confirms that saving the kids had nothing to do with being a greaser. The chapters focus on Two-bit and Ponyboy visiting Dally and Johnny in the hospital after the accident where the exchange various ordeals regarding the previous and upcoming rumble. What follows is the traumatic experience of Ponyboy after a concussion (Hinton, 1995, p.119).  A hearing takes place, and the book ends with Ponyboy deciding to write an assignment about his experience and calls it “The Outsiders”.

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The theory I have decided to focus on is the Post Structuralism Theory. This is because it can easily be overlooked and not given the attention it deserves, thus, contradicting this null assumption. Hinton, being a talented writer did not include a minor part involving reality and perception to the book, if it did not carry much weight in defining and building the main character Ponyboy. The Post Structuralism Theory revolves around the concept of assessing the different views posted by a writer and how they are perceived by the reader with a normative and intellectual approach (Ravelli & Webber, 2012, p.73).  The theory is used by Hinton, who symbolizes it like a motif to outlay the differences in what is reality and what is not. This is achieved after Ponyboy has a traumatic experience. The last chapters of The Outsiders are not void of Hinton pushing this theory and ideology. This is akin to Ponyboy, who has a belief that Dally and Johnny die in chapter ten, and it is the readers who associate this as reality until Ponyboy wakes up. This is when we get to know that he had been hallucinating after a three day concussion (Hinton, 1995, p.159).  

With Post Structuralism, the writer uses language to make simple illustrations which can be associated with certain events. The reader associates what they had read with a certain event they witnessed (Ravelli & Webber, 2012, p.74). This can also be information they came across in their day to day activities. The reader builds up a point of association of what they have read with reality as they know it. A good example is clearly depicted in chapter eight, when Ponyboy is confronting Cherry Valance in her Corvette, and she declines to visit Johnny in hospital terming him as the one who killed Bob (Hinton, 1995, p.166).  Hinton uses the statement “The sunset can be seen on the West Side, as well as the East Side”. This acts as a backbone to the Post Structuralism Theory. The reader automatically creates a mental picture of what the sunset looks like and how it applies to the rival gangs. This creates disarray between reality and perception, which is invoked by the use of creative language (Ravelli & Webber, 2012, p.119).

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The main concept of the story revolves around two key and elemental entities in society which are family and friendship. The concept is well materialized within the last five chapters with key examples. An example is when it is said that Ponyboy will be sent to juvenile court after being accused of manslaughter and separated from his family. Being separated from the people he cares about is quite traumatizing for him and it is manifested in the form of a recurring nightmare (Hinton, 1995, p.160). It requires his close friends and family to reassure him that all will be well. This emphasizes the key concept of family and friendship.

Another key concept of the story builds around the rivalry among teenagers. This is clearly depicted throughout the whole book and is centered between the two parties. The last chapter has various examples, depicting this deep rivalry etched between the two gangs. One of them is in chapter eight, when Ponyboy and Two-bit come across Cherry Valance who informs them of the agreement to fight without weapons. She refuses to go see Johnny in hospital despite his critical condition, on the basis that he killed Bob (Hinton, 1995, p.167). This is a clear indication of the rivalry between the two parties that are against each other, and it spills to innocent individuals.

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The whole concept in the last five chapters is centered on trying to make peace. This translates to deep and true friendship and foundations of family. Ponyboy and Two-bit stay with Dally and Johnny in the hospital to help cheer them up and this shows true friendship. They help each other to maintain friendship, and this is seen when Ponyboy tells Cherry that the sunset is seen on both the East Side and West Side (Hinton, 1995, p.166).  This states that there is a point of commonality between the two parties hence hinting at peace.

With this essay, I have managed to explore the theory of post structuralism and made founding analysis of how it is applied by Hinton in the last five chapters of The Outsider (Ravelli & Webber, 2012, p.75). The essay focuses on a key concept of friendship and family. It also teaches a lesson which can be applied by teenagers, to help them manage the social pressures from their peers. The book ends on a very positive tone, which also symbolizes hope for many teenagers.

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