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Alphonse de Lamartine

1. It is society that dubs the criminal. As Ponyboy remarked by the "rumble," the hoods were singled out by their appearance:

They could just as easily have been going to the movies as to a rumble. That's why people don't ever blame the Socs and are always ready to jump on us. We look hoody and they look decent. It could be just the other way around—half of the hoods I know are pretty decent guys underneath all that grease, and from what I've heard, a lot of Socs are just cold-blooded mean—but people usually go by hooks. (149)

Bob and Randy stole and drank as avidly and voraciously as did the greasers. Yet, society vilified the one and pursued the other. Both might be equally good and, in fact, the greasers seemed to be more meritorious and admirable than the Socs in many ways. Yet, as Johnny and Ponyboy realized, to escape the cops, they had to shave their hair.

2. The 1960s were a time of liberal education, with educators and parents thinking that unrestrained education was the solution to bringing up confident children. Self-esteem—the buzzword in the later 1970s and the 1980s—was supposed to come about through fewer restraints. The adolescents themselves demanded relaxed academic rule and a breakdown in distinction between professors and students. Randy, talking about Bob, explains the downside of this type of upbringing:

They spoiled him rotten… He kept trying to make someone say "No" and they never did. They never did. That was what he wanted. For somebody to tell him "No." To have somebody lay down the law, set the limits, give him something solid to stand on. That's what we all want, really. (124)

All children—and, by extension, all humans—desire rules. Absence of rules results in the breakdown of society, as is illustrated in Bob's case.

3. Tim Shepard's gang was skilled in the ways of the street. They were seasoned crooks, powerful and tough. They were far more experienced and skilled in their craft than were the greasers. Nonetheless, the greasers had one thing that the more experienced hoods lacked—they had unity: "They had a leader and were organized; we were just buddies who stuck together" (146). Maybe that is why they could beat them.

4. "What I like is the 'turn' bit," Two-Bit said cleaning the egg up off the floor. "Y'all were heroes from the beginning. You just didn't 'turn' all of a sudden" (115).

Two-Bit's remark is resonant with sagacity. Ponyboy and Johnny were always heroes in their specific way. The incident with the fire simply brought out their characteristics and publicized it. Being a hero doesn't just depend on circumstance; a person can always be a hero, whether socially recognized or not.

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