The Outsiders; a lesson on human stereotypes.

Print page

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is about two rival “gangs”. The socs which are the high class, rich, preppy people. While the greasers are your 1950’s dressed men, with their leather jackets, slick back hair. They also are the lower class people. The main characters from the book are: Ponyboy, Johnny, Dally, Sodapop, Two-bit, Darry, and Randy. Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop are brothers. All three of them are brothers, while Darry is the oldest he takes care of Ponyboy and Sodapop, he takes care of them because their parents died in a car crash. All these boys are like brothers because they all grew up together and are always together.

The Outsiders shows us that in our society we have stereotypes based on the outside and not knowing us from the inside. Stereotypes can not be totally avoided because everyone has their opinions about people. But a lesson I learned that happens in the book as well as  in real life is that people always judged the greasers just because they’re “gangs”. But at the end of the day they became the good people and the “good” people turned bad. We have prejudice in certain races by judging their color skin, but in reality we don’t know  how they truly are on the inside.  In fact we are all a mix of the good and the bad.  The best way to fight negative stereotyping is to be humble with our own imperfections and look for the good in the other.   One sentence that shows this theme is, “It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different. We saw the same sunset.”  This quote demonstrates that no matter what lifestyle you have or how your criticized by the lifestyle you live by you will always have something in common with someone else, at the end of the day we are all human beings no matter what race, sex, or social class, we are all more similar than different.

Unfortunately, the characters in The Outsiders do not come together as friends. Is our society doomed to have the same end?  According to recent studies the idea of “American tribalism” is growing.  We are more diverse than ever but unfortunately groups within our diversity feel threatened by others.  The imperfections of human nature always seem to increase fear and decrease trust.  Trust is needed in a healthy society.

When groups feel threatened, they retreat into tribalism. When groups feel mistreated and disrespected, they close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them.

In America today, every group feels this way to some extent. Whites and blacks, Latinos and Asians, men and women, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, straight people and gay people, liberals and conservatives – all feel their groups are being attacked, bullied, persecuted, discriminated against.   

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/01/how-americas-identity-politics-went-from-inclusion-to-division

Maybe we will never be able to trust completely but we can help get rid of stereotypes by not judging people off what other people have to say. Getting to know someone first, having a conversation with them could change your whole perspective.  This is how we create a “more perfect union” of diverse American citizens.

On a social level we can become better citizens by communication with each one another. We also need to be role models for each other.  Just because our national leader is so stereotypical and has brainwashed so many people with his tweets to hate a certain race or to always look for someone to blame  does not mean that we should be part of the problem as well.  We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.   It becomes harder when our leadership is a big part of the problem.  We could end all of this by having a supporting leader, one that  believes in equality, and one who respects all types of races but we first need to look for that leader in ourselves.

 

 

 

Cliff Notes: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/o/the-outsiders/book-summary