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Mrs. Henry
ELA/Reading
October 9, 2016
The Outsiders
In the book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, a greaser named Ponyboy faces the struggles of
life. One of his friends, Johnny, faces conflicts as well. Johnny journeys through moral and
ethical issues, affecting him and the plot.
Within The Outsiders, Johnnys moral decisions influence him and the characters in the novel.
Johnny, Ponyboy, and Dally are at the movies. Dally buys cokes for two girls and his friends. He
had been irritating the girls almost the entire movie, so Cherry, one of the girls, throws the coke
in his face. Dally starts to put his arm around the girl but Johnny stops him and tells him to back
off. Dally walks away from the scene. This behavior is unusual for Johnny. It had taken more
than nerve for him to say what hed said to Dally-Johnny worshiped the ground Dallas walked
on, and I had never heard Johnny talk back to anyone, much less his hero(25). Johnny stood up
for the girls even though he admired Dally. Soon, Ponyboy and Cherry become friends. Johnny
influences himself as well. Johnny and Ponyboy break into a burning church to save kids from a
fire. Johnny unfortunately gets hit by a piece of timber on his back. Johnny, well, I dont know
about him. A piece of timber caught him across the back-he might have a broken back, and he
was burned pretty severely(95). He is hospitalized for his actions but he risked his life saving
the children. His death later effects Ponyboy and Dally. Dally robs a grocery store and gets
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shot and killed. Ponyboy falls into a coma and becomes sick. Johnnys moral decisions cause
changes in the other characters.
Johnnys moral decisions affect the plot of The Outsiders. Ponyboy and Johnny are relaxing
near a fountain in the park when five Socs come and start drowning Ponyboy in the fountain.
Johnny makes the quick decision to stab one of the Socs in self defense. Ponyboy and Johnny
quickly decide to run away. Johnny looked around, slapping his pockets nervously. We gotta
get outa here. Get somewhere. Run away. The policell be here soon(57). Johnnys self defense
causes them to panic and run away from town. Another decision Johnny comes up with is to turn
themselves in. I said were goin back and turn ourselves in, Johnny repeated in a quiet voice. I
was surprised but not shocked. I had thought about turning ourselves in lots of times, but
apparently the whole idea was a jolt to Dallas(87). Johnny feels the need to turn himself in even
with the risk of him being charged with murder. Johnny understands his actions were in self
defense.
Johnnys moral actions influence the characters and plot of The Outsiders. Him killing the Soc
in self defense causes the plot to advance as Ponyboy and Johnny run away to the countryside.
Even though Johnnys actions caused his death, he knew his decision saved childrens lives.
Johnny did not know the consequences of his own death. The hope is that his moral actions may
influence others such as Ponyboy in a positive way. However, it seems as though his death
overshadowed the lesson of his good deeds. Dally dies by getting shot by the police after robbing
a grocery store. Ponyboy tries to forget about Johnny to hide his sadness. Just like with Johnny,

peoples decisions can affect them and others in good or bad ways. As the characters struggle to
learn and make progress in their life it becomes obvious there cannot be a way of understanding
how certain moral decisions will affect people.

Works Cited
Gillespie, Tim. Doing Literary Criticism: Helping Students Engage with Challenging Texts.
Portland, ME.: Stenhouse, 2010. Accessed 14 December 2016.
Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. 1967. Penguin Group, 2008