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Social Lessons in the Film, The Outsiders

The Outsiders, a 1983 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and distributed by Warner Bros. that starred Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, and Diane Lane, among others, delved on several societal issues, most evident of which has been the apparent social strata that was in existent in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the decade of 1960’s. The film has expressly detailed the cultural demarcation between the rich kids, known as the Socials, and the kids from the less opulent side of the town, known as the Greasers, that was the main cause of the conflicts that ensued between the two groups.

More importantly, the film, The Outsiders, was successful in its attempt to convey to its audience the folly that a divided youth, often times with prevailing hatred towards their counterpart, can cause damaging consequences to their very lives, as evidenced in the portrayal of the characters involved in the story. The most dominant theme that was employed in the film was discrimination, not involving the racial or religious type, but the economic divide that is common in almost all of the societies.

This was apparent in the manner that the Socials treated the Greasers, wherein they upheld a false belief of supremacy simply because of their more luxurious lifestyles. Darren Dalton’s character, Randy Adderson, made this clear to Johnny Cade in his honest observation, “You can’t win. You know that, don’t you? It doesn’t matter if you whip us, you’ll still be where you were before, at the bottom. And we’ll still be the lucky ones at the top with all the breaks” (Roos, 1983).

Economic discrimination was also exhibited by Cherry Valance, particularly in her admission to Ponyboy Curtis that despite of their budding friendship, she still will not be able to greet him in campus, most certainly because of the existing norm wherein doing so will diminish her reputation among her Socs friends. Another theme that was exhibited in the film was friendship. This was especially evident in the Greasers, where their friendship became the central point of the film’s story.

One instance that conveyed this fact was the help that Dally Winston extended to the beleaguered Johnny Cade and Ponyboy Curtis when they had to flee the town in order to avoid arrest, particularly in assuring that they will have a place to stay and with enough money for food. Friendship was also a dominant aspect between the characters of Ponyboy and Johnny. This was manifested in their experiences throughout the film, from their hometown in Tulsa, to the abandoned church where they hid, and back again to their families after they had saved the children from the burning church.

Although presented tacitly, the theme of hope was likewise conveyed. This can be evidenced in the character of Ponyboy Curtis, particularly in Robert Frost’s poem that read, “Then leaf subsides to leaf, So Eden sank to grief. So dawn goes down today, nothing gold can stay” (Roos, 1983), and Johnny’s dying wish for Ponyboy to stay gold. Apparently, Ponyboy’s poetic inclination came as a surprise, given his background as being one of the Greasers.

The theme of hope was furthered in the last scene, wherein Ponyboy was found to be innocent of the charge that he was accused of. Apparently, his depiction as having a talent for poems and his court acquittal leaves the story in an open ending, where the audience is led to assume that he is transform into a responsible adult. Conclusion Although set in the 1960’s, it is surprising as it is alarming that the film, The Outsiders, still is able to accurately depict the prevailing realities in the American society.

We are still living in an illusion that somehow, some of the characteristics that are innate in us allow us to be superior to others who are outside of our own circle. Perhaps there is a need for us to learn from this film and realize that we are all equal, regardless of our personal backgrounds. Reference Roos, F. (Producer), & Coppola, F. F. (Director). (1983). The Outsiders [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

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