The Outsiders

The Outsiders Quotes and Analysis

"How'd you like that haircut to begin just below the chin?"

An anonymous Soc says this to Ponyboy in Chapter 1

The Socs have jumped Ponyboy, and are taunting him about his hair. At this point, they are holding him down with a knife at his throat. The phrase is not just a threat of violence (it implies the Soc is about to slit Ponyboy's throat), but a reference to the distinguishing quality that makes Ponyboy stand out as a Greaser: his hair.

"Things are rough all over."

Cherry Valance says this to Ponyboy in Chapter 2

Ponyboy has just finished relating the story of Johnny's attack to Cherry, and to the reader for the first time. Cherry is shocked, but points out to him that not all Socs act that way, just like not all Greasers act like Dally. She insists that "We have troubles you've never even heard of."

In Chapter 7, as Randy tells Ponyboy that he is tired of fighting and is going to leave town instead of going to the rumble, Ponyboy remembers Cherry saying "Things are rough all over," and understands what she meant. By the end of the chapter, Ponyboy has decided that, "Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too."

"Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset."

Ponyboy as narrator in Chapter 3

After talking to Cherry and realizing he can really connect with her, Ponyboy uses the sunset as a bridge between the world of the Greasers and that of the Socs. Throughout the story, he notices the sunset and thinks of Cherry, and notes that she is seeing the same sunset. This daily natural occurrence links two disparate worlds -- and the implication is that it links far more as well.

"Next time you want a broad, pick up your own kind."

Bob says this to Johnny and Ponyboy in Chapter 3

Right before the Socs attack Ponyboy and Johnny, in the fight that results in Johnny killing Bob, Bob describes the reasoning for the attack. He wants the Greasers to know their place in society, and to stay away from Soc girls. Later, in Chapter 6, Dallas Winston echos Bob's words when he explains how Cherry is acting as a spy for the Greasers, saying, "Man, next time I want a broad I'll pick up my own kind." Ponyboy remembers Bob saying this, and a link is created between Bob and Dally, both of whom die young before the story ends.

"You can't win, even if you whip us. You'll still be where you were before - at the bottom. And we'll still be the lucky ones with all the breaks. So it doesn't do any good, the fighting and the killing. It doesn't prove a thing. We'll forget it if you win, or if you don't. Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs."

Randy says this to Ponyboy in Chapter 7

This speech describes the plight of the Greasers, and the futility of fighting. Randy has decided to leave town instead of attending the rumble that night, and here he explains to Ponyboy why. Fighting and killing don't solve anything; the gap between social classes remains, and continues to define the Greasers and the Socs.

"I am a greaser. I am a JD and a hood. I blacken the name of our fair city. I beat up people. I rob gas stations. I am a menace to society. Man, do I have fun!"

Soda chants this as they leave the house for the rumble in Chapter 9

This chant begins the role-playing game, in which Two-Bit and Darry pretend to be Socs. The game allows them to get excited about their rumble, but at the same time reveals how conscious they are of their appearance to the rest of society. Though not all of the stereotypes are true of all Greasers, they embrace their appearance, refracting to a degree what they feel society thinks of them.

"Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold..."

Johnny whispers this to Ponyboy before he dies in Chapter 9

In his last words, Johnny references the same Robert Frost poem that Ponyboy recited aloud when they were sitting on the back porch of the church, watching the sunrise. By dying, Johnny fulfills the prophecy of the poem that "Nothing gold can stay." But he wishes that Ponyboy would fulfill his own potential by not becoming a convict and using his intelligence to get out of the hood.

"We're all we've got left. We ought to be able to stick together against everything. If we don't have each other, we don't have anything."

Sodapop says this to Darry and Ponyboy in Chater 12

Ponyboy and Darry's relationship has been strained since their parents died and Darry became responsible for his little brothers. They fight all the time, and throughout the story try to reconcile and come to an understanding. But they never think of how their fighting affects Soda until Chapter 12, when he runs out of the house. When they catch him in the park, he tells them the above quote, pointing out the unity that defines their family now.

"I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep that way, it's a good way to be."

This is an excerpt from the note Johnny writes Ponyboy, which Ponyboy reads in Chapter 12

This quotation is Johnny's explanation of his own last words, "Stay gold." Reading this note inspires Ponyboy to write The Outsiders as his semester theme for English class. In the note, Johnny says to "tell Dally" about staying gold, but Ponyboy knows it is too late, since Dally is already dead by the time he reads it. So Ponyboy feels compelled to share what he has learned from his own experience as a Greaser with others, so that the fighting might stop and lives might be saved.