When we are young, we are curious about life. We are nature’s first green. Young, carefree, and worriless. We lived happily without stress. This is not an easy thing to keep. Those days slowly become harder to have as you get older. We have responsibilities and more worries. This same thing goes on in the novel The Outsiders written by S.E. Hinton, where one of the main themes is innocence. The definition is different than what you might think. For the characters, it is not just about what they have seen or done, it is how that changes them, and if they can still find positive aspects in the world.
Loss of Innocence In The Outsiders
All of the boys have a different innocence because of the way they see their life and the world around them, whether it is Ponyboy watching sunsets, Johnny still finding the little things that make him happy like reading, or Dally giving up on loving anything. Ponyboy is the narrator of the story and tells his world from his own perspective. He is much more innocent than many of the characters in the book because he is thankful for what he still has.
As Ponyboy says in the novel I’ll fight anyone anytime, but I don’t like to which means he doesn’t like to fight and hates violence, but living where he does takes away innocence because violence is a part of life. He is not like the other boys in a way, because he said I liked my books and clouds and sunsets which are still things that make help you maintain your innocence. But for Pony, he still had traumatic experiences that made him lose innocence such as when Mom and Dad were killed in an auto wreck, Ponyboy had to grow up faster.
He had to go through the feeling of loss which made him lose innocence, although he sees a positive in this because he didn’t lose his brothers. His brother Darry had to step up and take his father’s place and that meant the Ponyboy wouldn’t have the fun lighthearted Darry anymore. Overall, Ponyboy is less innocent than most of the characters in the book because he chooses to not follow the stereotypes of being a Greaser such as getting into fights. Another character who is similar to Ponyboy is Johnny.
Johnny didn’t have a great home life and he wasn’t loved there, although he still managed to keep a little innocence. If it hadn’t been for the gang, Johnny would never have known what love and affection are. (pg. 11.2) Johnny only maintains his innocence because of the gang. He doesn’t have a good home life and he is neglected and abused. He lost a lot of innocence because he doesn’t have a family to love and care for him one of his main sources of innocence is the gang. He also is selfless and he is not hardened like Dally.
That was the only time I can think of when I saw him without that defeated, suspicious look in his eyes. He looked like he was having the time of his life. (pg. 79.2) He decided to go into the fire instead of standing back like Dally and help the kids. This shows that he is up for an adventure and cares about others. He knows that he doesn’t have a great future, so he decided to risk his own life to help kids who might have more of a chance. In conclusion, Johnny is somewhat innocent because he has the gang to love him and he cares about others, although he doesn’t have a good home life. Johnny is more similar to Dally than Ponyboy because of his family.
Dally has hardened himself up and he lost all of his innocence in his hard life. Dally has had to harden up at a young age. Dally had spent three years on the wild side of New York and had been arrested at the age of ten (pg. 10.2). He grew up in a rough neighborhood which made him have to toughen up at an early age so he didn’t get hurt. He never got the real affection of a father either, and the only people who love him is the gang. The only innocence he had left came from the gang, and especially Johnny. “Dammit, Johnny…” he begged, slamming one fist against the wall, hammering it to make it obey his will. “Oh, dammit, Johnny, don’t die, please don’t die…” Johnny was Dally’s last shred of innocence, and nobody can live without any innocence at all, so Dally didn’t have anything else to live for. Overall, Dally is the least innocent of the gang because he turned cold and hard since you don’t get hurt that way.
The boys all have a different innocence because of the way their lives are whether it is Dally living on the streets of New York, Johnny having a terrible home life and only being loved by the gang, or Ponyboy losing his parents, they all went through something that made them less innocent. Ponyboy is more innocent than many members of the gang because he can still find positive aspects of his life such as not losing his brothers, and having a gang who loves him.
Johnny is less innocent than Ponyboy because he doesn’t have a family who loves him, and that impacts him and makes him see his home life very negatively. Dally has completely lost his innocence and love for the world. He hardened himself because he thought that you don’t get hurt if you get tough. Because we all have different lives and experiences that make us who we are. If everyone had the same innocence and views that would not make a diverse world. It is not just about what you have seen, it is about how that changes who you are and your personality.