Many times, fighting is done within a person. Fighting is part of our life, when we believe in something and care about people. Being faithful and devoted to someone or something can be also called loyalty which is one of the most prominent themes in the book “The Outsiders” by S.E Hinton. In the novel, there seem to be many characters fighting for what they believe in and the people they love and care about. Loyalty is about people who stay true to you behind your back.
Loyalty comes with sacrifices, this is seen through the characters, Johnny, Dally, and Ponyboy.
To begin with, Johnny Cade not only fights to protect his family, but he fights to protect strangers. He is a sixteen-year-old boy that was beaten by the Socs before the beginning of the novel. He seems to be empathetic, emotional and gives second chances to everyone. He has the biggest heart from all the other people in the gang.
Because of the fact that he is the youngest member of the gang, everybody there treats him like a little brother. At home, his father beats him and his mother ignores him and screams at him all the time. Johnny only feels being loved by the guys in the gang. He truly wants a family and someone who truly cares about him. Johnny says, “I had to. They were drowning you, Pony. They might have killed you” (Hinton 69). The part when Johnny argues that his killing Bob was an act of loyalty to Ponyboy and himself.
Johnny kills Bob with a knife, which means that Johnny would do anything to save a friend’s life, even if it means breaking the law. He sacrifices his future and his life. In addition, Johnny shows that he is a loyal person when he runs back into the burning church to rescue the kids that were inside, even though they are strangers. That for Johnny is strange because he is more of a sensitive person and always likes to follow the rules. Ponyboy says, “I looked around, startled. I hadn’t realized Johnny was right behind me all the way. I took a deep breath, and started coughing. The smoke filled my eyes and they started watering. ‘Is that guy coming?” (Hinton 112). Johnny follows Ponyboy without him realizing to go help him save the little kids who were trapped inside the burning building. He wants to save the children and he is also motivated by loyalty to Ponyboy. He is simply a scared kid who is fighting to protect the children and risks his own life. After the fire, Johnny is hurt and in a horrible condition and he probably won’t make it, he will die. In Johhny’s last letter to his friend Ponyboy, he expresses, “Listen, I don’t mind dying now. It was worth it. It’s worth saving those kids. Their lives are worth more than mine, they have more to live for” (Hinton 178). This shows that Johnny finds the lives of kids he doesn’t even know more valuable than his own. After the death of Johnny, Ponyboy realizes that they needed Johnny as much as he needed them because the people in the gang needed to protect someone and it was like a way to forget things that depressed them. Johnny was one of the main reasons that the Greasers banded together for the same purpose.
Furthermore, loyalty is a point of pride, honor, and principle for Ponyboy Michael Curtis, the protagonist in” The Outsiders”. He doesn’t fit in a stereotype of a Greaser and he doesn’t like some of the people in his gang. He is an excellent student with wonderful grades and he is different from the others. Ponyboy says, “I’m supposed to be smart; I make good grades and have a high IQ and everything, but I don’t use my head. Besides, I like walking” (Hinton). He excels at both sports and art and he is also a great writer. Pony is fourteen years old and both of his parents have died in a car accident a while ago and he is being raised by his two older brothers. Ponyboy says, “Since Mom and Dad were killed in an auto wreck, the three of us only get to stay together only as long as we behave. So Soda and I stay out of trouble as much as we can” (Hinton). Loyalty is a big deal for Ponyboy and family loyalty the biggest deal of all. He wants to be safe and everyone to stay out of trouble. Moreover, loyalty is the threat that holds the gang together. They know each other well, as they have faced difficult times together. In Ponyboy’s gang, all of the boys are loyal to each other because they are like brothers. Ponyboy explains, “You take up for your buddies no matter what they do. When you’re in a gang, you stick up for the members. If you don’t, it isn’t aging any more. It’s a snarling, distrustful, bickering pack” (Hinton). You would do anything for one of your gang members, including a murder. After all the trauma he experienced, he wrote a novel to share the pain of stereotyping people and the truths he learned from the loss of three innocent lives. He struggles to find an identity and the feelings of alienation.
In contrast, Dallas Winston is the rough, dangerous and tough guy in the gang. He is one of the most striking characters in the gang, he has spent three years on the wilder side of New York and was arrested at the age of ten. Also, he takes part in gang fights and he even steals from kids. Ponyboy says, “he got drunk, he rode in rodeos, lied, cheated, stole, rolled drunks, jumped small kids—he did everything. I didn’t like him, but I had to respect him” (Hinton). He makes clear that Dally is a criminal, but is he only a criminal? Dally is much more than a criminal face, as he shows another face as well. Dally grew up in a tough environment to handle and he is careful about his surroundings. He is still a well- behaved person but he doesn’t like to show that to others. It is clear that he is loyal to Johnny when he tried to save Johnny’s life from the burning building. He didn’t have any interest in saving the kids because Johnny was so valuable to him that he doesn’t think he could live without him. Dally helped pull the kids out through the window, he tackled Ponyboy to put out the fire on his coat and he went in after the collapse of the roof and pulled Johnny out of the building. Unfortunately, the roof collapsed on Johnny, he broke his back and he was extremely hurt. When Johnny died Dally was broken and for him, it was like losing a family member or even similar to losing his own life. It was extremely difficult for him to handle this death and he said that he would have no meaning in life anymore. After the death of Johnny Dally did many bad things like stealing stores where he got shot by the cops in the chest. He blames himself for this death, as he could have protected Johnny from dying. Dally died because death was his love for Johnny and he felt such a huge loss and he didn’t want to live anymore. In addition, in the book Johnny thinks that Dally is a hero because of his deep loyalty to the Greasers. Dally expresses loyalty by sacrificing and he shows that he cares by taking the blame for Two-bit. Johnny says, ‘Yeah… in the manners bit, and the charm, too, I guess,’ Johnny said slowly, ‘but one night I saw Dally gettin’ picked up by the fuzz, and he kept real cool and calm the whole time. They was gettin’ him for breakin’ out the windows in the school building, and it was Two-Bit who did that. And Dally knew it. But he just took the sentence without battin’ an eye or even denyin’ it. That’s gallant” (Hinton 76). Dallas took the blame because of the fact that he was experienced with jail and he was an awful guy. Dally is a person that makes a difference in the book because of his deep loyalty when he risks his own life.
To conclude, in the novel “The Outsiders” Johnny, Dally, and Ponyboy stand up for what they think is right, emphasizing the importance of fighting for purpose in life. Johnny saves Ponyboy from drowning and he runs into a burning building to save innocent children. Dally takes the blame for Two-Bit, helps to save the kids and dies when Johnny dies. In the same way, Ponyboy writes a novel that helps teenagers deal with similar circumstances, so they fight for something in life. These are the three main characters that sacrifice and fight for others and themselves in the book. The characters and actions of this story create a supportive community of loyalty. They face times of horrible pain throughout the book but their bonds of friendship pull them together.