The Outsiders

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The Outsiders Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The park is deserted. As Johnny and Ponyboy walk and talk, the blue Mustang suddenly appears. Bob, his friend Randy, and three other Socs jump out of the car. All of them are drunk. Johnny, terrified, pulls out his switchblade and Ponyboy wishes he had the broken bottle. Bob insults greasers by calling them white trash with long hair. Ponyboy, furious, responds that Socs are white trash with mustangs and madras (plaid) shirts, and spits at the Socs.
Ponyboy's desire for the broken bottle suggests that the conflict around him is making it harder for him to preserve his inclination towards nonviolence. Notice how, once again, when it comes to conflicts between the two gangs, the participants focus on the opposing gang's superficial characteristics.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
The Socs attack. One forces Ponyboy's head underwater in a nearby fountain. Ponyboy blacks out. When he comes to, the Socs are gone and he's on the pavement next to Johnny and Bob's dead body. Johnny says, "I killed him." Johnny's switchblade is covered in blood.
Johnny and Ponyboy go from the youngest and most childish members of the greasers to people who have fought and killed Socs. They are forced to grow up in an instant. The question is how they'll deal with it.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Ponyboy panics, but Johnny is calm. He decides that they should go to Dally for help. They find Dally at a party at the house of Dally's rodeo partner, Buck Merril. When he learns what's happened, Dally gives them warm clothes, fifty dollars, a loaded gun, and directions to a hide-out in an abandoned church in the small rural town of Windrixville. He asks Ponyboy if Darry and Sodapop know what happened. Ponyboy tells him not to say anything to Darry.
To society, Dally is a villain or thug, but he is incredibly generous and protective of his fellow greasers. Yet the fact that Johnny and Pony go to Dally rather than Darry indicates that the killing has pushed them in the direction of growing up to become more like Dally than like Darry.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Self-Sacrifice and Honor Theme Icon
Hidden in a boxcar on a train they've hopped to Windrixville, Johnny looks at Dally's gun and wonders why Dally gave it to him, saying he could never use it. For his part, Ponyboy, wearing the warm "hoodlum's jacket" that Dally gave him, can't believe that the two of them are fleeing a murder. He thinks about Johnny's kind quiet demeanor and marvels at the enormity of their current situation.
Dally's gun and "hoodlum's jacket" show how the conflict with the Socs (and Bob's killing in particular) is pushing Ponyboy and Johnny away from innocence and sensitivity toward Dally's much more hard-hearted and violent way of life.
Themes
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon
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At the Windrixville station, Ponyboy realizes how his and Johnny's appearance make them look like hoods. He misses home, and thinks about how his dream of moving to the country has come true but not in the way he planned it. As soon they find the abandoned church, they immediately drop off to sleep.
Ponyboy recognizes the difference between the way society will view him and Johnny, and who they really are as individuals. Also note how Ponyboy's childish dreams of a simpler life in the country have been dashed. Dashed dreams lead to hopelessness and hardness.
Themes
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon