The Outsiders

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The Blue Mustang Symbol Analysis

The Blue Mustang Symbol Icon
The blue Mustang represents the Socs wealth as well as the danger they pose to greasers. When Ponyboy or another greaser spots the Mustang, he knows trouble is coming. As the novel progresses, however, and Ponyboy comes to understand and feel compassion for the Socs, the Mustang loses some of its power to intimidate. Ponyboy actually sits inside of it when Randy and he talk about the church fire and the rumble.

The Blue Mustang Quotes in The Outsiders

The The Outsiders quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Blue Mustang. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Divided Communities Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Speak edition of The Outsiders published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes
Johnny never walked by himself after that. And carried in his back pocket a six-inch switchblade. He'd use it, too, if he ever got jumped again.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Johnny Cade
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this scene, Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny are introduced to Cherry and her friend Marcia at a local drive in. Ponyboy takes Cherry to get concessions and she asks him why Johnny is so quiet and skittish. Ponyboy explains that a few months back, Johnny was jumped by four Socs. They snuck up on him in a blue Mustang. One, who we will later learn is Bob, was wearing rings on his fingers, and left a long scar across Johnny's face. Since that moment, the sweet, nonviolent Johnny never goes anywhere alone and carries a switchblade for protection. 

Here, Hinton highlights how dangerous the divide between the Greasers and the Socs truly is. This moment is also another instance of juxtaposing innocence and violence. Johnny and Ponyboy are young, introspective, and non-violent youths living in a world where they are forced to face and react with violence. 

The blade and the Blue Mustang become important symbols of the divided communities of the Socs and Greasers. For Johnny, there's no turning back, and if given the opportunity to use the blade on a Soc and kill him, he would. 


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Chapter 3 Quotes
It wasn't fair for the Socs to have everything. We were as good as they were; it wasn't our fault we were greasers...I felt the tension growing inside of me and I knew something had to happen or I would explode.
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

As Johnny, Two-Bit, and Ponyboy walk Cherry and Marcia home, the Blue Mustang appears, revealing Cherry's boyfriend Bob and his Soc friends. Ponyboy realizes this is the same Mustang and same Soc that attacked Johnny. In order to prevent a fight, Cherry and Marcia get in the car and drive off with Bob. Cherry apologizes to Ponyboy. She can't say hi to him in school or speak to him anymore: it's not personal, it's just the rules.

Afterwards Ponyboy and Johnny lay out and look at the stars. The altercation has set Ponyboy over the edge. He doesn't understand why he has to live with his brothers, why he can't afford a car, and moreover why he can't have a friendship with Cherry. The Socs can have all of those things. Ponyboy is furious at their entitlement, privilege, and cruelty. He is also heartbroken; Cherry was the only person who ever understood him and yet she has to maintain her reputation and not speak to him. 

Here we see Ponyboy's frustration at his own position escalate to a potentially dangerous point. Instead of being fearful of the Socs, he resents them, and he's angry at the lines drawn by their wealth. The empathy that Cherry has instilled in him is diminished by his frustration at the divide between gangs. 

Chapter 4 Quotes
"You know what a greaser is" Bob asked. "White trash with long hair."…
"You know what a Soc is?" I said, my voice shaking with rage. "White trash with Mustangs and madras."
Related Characters: Ponyboy Curtis (speaker), Bob Sheldon (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Blue Mustang
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After getting slapped by Darry for coming home late from the Drive-In, Ponyboy decides to get Johnny and run away from home. As they approach the local park, the infamous blue Mustang appears. Bob and four other Socs pull up to the boys. They chastise Johnny and Ponyboy for "picking up" their girlfriends. Then, In a leap of faith and bravery, Ponyboy stands up to the Socs, sparking what will become a brutal fight. 

When Bob makes fun of his hair, Ponyboy responds to Bob's taunting with the same rhetoric, suggesting that the only difference between the two is their wealth. It is a superficial and pointless difference, and both are, in essence, "trash." This takes Bob over the edge, and he directs his gang of Socs to try to "clean" Ponyboy's greasy hair by shoving his face into a fountain in the park. In order to save him, Johnny uses the switchblade he's been carrying to stab Bob.

This scene shows Ponyboy somewhat bridging the divide between the Greasers and the Socs, but only in order to turn an insult back against his enemy. The closer the two communities get, the greater their hatred and need to define themselves against each other grows.

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The Blue Mustang Symbol Timeline in The Outsiders

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Blue Mustang appears in The Outsiders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
...but Dally was especially affected. Johnny revealed that a group of Socs in a blue Mustang threatened and beat him for no apparent reason. Johnny now carries a switchblade that he... (full context)
Chapter 3
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Just then, Marcia notices a blue Mustang coming down the street, and everyone becomes nervous, especially Johnny. The car passes slowly and... (full context)
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Empathy Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon
The Mustang approaches again and this time stops beside the group. The boys in the car are... (full context)
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
After the Mustang drives off, Two-Bit leaves Johnny and Ponyboy in the vacant lot where the greasers hang... (full context)
Chapter 4
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Preserving Childhood Innocence Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Divided Communities Theme Icon
Empathy Theme Icon
Self-Sacrifice and Honor Theme Icon
Individual Identity Theme Icon
...and Two-Bit go down to the Tasty Freeze to buy sodas. While there, the blue Mustang pulls into the parking lot. Randy emerges from the car and walks over. Ponyboy and... (full context)