The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
Contributed by Jerrold Mcmenamin
Chapter 9-10
Summary

Summary: Chapter 9

Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold. . .

Ponyboy finds himself feeling ill before the rumble. He takes five aspirins and has trouble eating his dinner. Having bathed and dressed to look “tuff,” the boys leave for the rumble. Ponyboy feels anxious when he meets up with the other greasers. Some of the other greaser gangs, such as the one led by Tim Shepherd, seem to be full of real hoods. Four cars bring twenty-two Socs. There are twenty greasers present. Darry is the one to begin the fight, and Darry’s football teammate and high school friend, Paul Holden, approaches to challenge him. Darry and Paul circle each other. When Dally arrives, the full fight breaks out. The greasers prevail, after a protracted struggle.

After the rumble, Ponyboy and Dally head to the hospital to visit Johnny. Ponyboy pretends he has an injury and needs medical attention when a policeman tries to stop them, and the officer brings them to the hospital. When they get to the hospital, they discover that Johnny is dying. With some of his last dying words, Johnny tells them that fighting is pointless. After telling Ponyboy to “[s]tay gold,” he dies. A grief-stricken Dally runs from the room.

Summary: Chapter 10

For hours after Johnny passes away, Ponyboy wanders around alone. A man eventually offers him a ride, asking if the boy is okay. His head is bleeding. Ponyboy feels a vague sense of disorientation. When he gets home, he discovers a number of greasers in the living room. He announces Johnny’s death and the fact that Dally broke down. Dally calls to say that he has robbed a grocery store and is on the run from police. When the gang rushes out, they see that police officers are chasing their friend. Dally carries an unloaded gun. He pulls it out, the police shoot him, and he falls to the ground. Dally is dead. Ponyboy thinks that Dally wanted to die. He feels so overwhelmed that he passes out.

Darry is at Ponyboy’s side when he wakes up. It appears that Ponyboy suffered a concussion when he was kicked by a Soc in the head during the rumble. He has been in bed delirious for a few days.

Analysis

Underlying the struggle between the greasers and the Socs is the conflict between the personal desire for peace and a feeling of social obligation to fight. There is a moral lesson in the rumble. The face off between Darry Curtis and Paul Holden begins the fight. The reality of Darry and Paul being football teammates and high school friends indicates that there was no need for their rivalry. It shows that money can make enemies of people who would be friends otherwise. The comment Ponyboy makes that they were once friends but now hate one another because one is forced to work for a living while the other enjoys the financial security of the well-off West Side brings into focus the unnecessary nature of their conflict. While individuals can see that the conflict and violence is pointless, they still fight because they feel a social obligation to their respective gangs.

This tension is palpable within Ponyboy before the fight begins. His instincts say that he should skip the rumble because he realizes that the violence is pointless. The fact that he feels the need to take five aspirins and the hesitation he feels after speaking to Randy demonstrate that he isn’t physically or emotionally prepared. Regardless of any of this, however, Ponyboy goes ahead with taking part in the rumble because he doesn’t want to displease his social group. Ponyboy’s decision to take part in the rumble solidifies his position in the gang. He is no longer seen as only a tagalong little brother. Rather, he is perceived as being a valuable fighter in his own right.

The way the greasers get ready for the rumble makes it seem like they’re preparing for a high school dance. They bathe and do their hair, and they dress with care. The points to the fact that the rumble is a social event. It is an occasion on which they can defend their own identity and celebrate it. Other teenagers might assert their identities by going to dances and parties, but the greasers celebrate theirs through conflict with the Socs. Once the fight is over, though, the event’s glamour quickly wears off. Even though they were victorious, the greasers know that violence is useless. It doesn’t achieve anything. No element of the greasers’ lives have improved. They have been injured, and the Curtis brothers might still be separated. Most significantly of all, Johnny is still dying.

Despite the rumble being seen as a culmination of tension, it ends up being anticlimactic. After the rumble is finished, Ponyboy and Dally immediately rush to visit Johnny in the hospital. This indicates that they saw the rumble as only a minor event that took them away from tending to truly important concerns. The other greasers seem depressed as a result of the rumble, as well. They do not experience the thrill of victory that they expected they would. The greasers do not cheer when the Socs retreat. They only double over, bleed, and look at their wounds. The announcement Darry makes of their victory is conveyed in a tired voice.

These chapters’ events indicate the apex of Ponyboy’s trauma. He has been prevented from experiencing pain by constant disasters. Over just a few days, Ponyboy has nearly drowned, learned that his friend killed someone, run away and hidden, saved children from the burning church, and found out that the state could remove him from his brothers. Yet the emotions these events create have been pushed down by the constant occurrence of new trauma, by Ponyboy’s anxiety about Johnny, and by the rumble. Indication that the string of disasters is over seems clear when Ponyboy is hospitalized. There can now finally be a time of reflection.

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