Literature Written For Young Adults Tends To Leave Behind

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Literature written for young adults tends to leave behind the wide-eyed idealism of novels intended for children and depicts a world in which adolescents must discover and negotiate their place within various powerful social institutions. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton continues these major themes of the genre through its depiction of fourteen-year-old Ponyboy Curtis and his attempts to understand his own social position.. The boys all belong to the same general age group, but it is significant that Ponyboy and his friend Johnny are the youngest members of the gang. There is a contrast between the attitudes of the older members of the gang and the younger members that clearly highlights the effect of disillusionment on youth as they…show more content…
It is likely that Johnny 's comparative youth plays a major role in why the gang feels so strongly that they need to defend him. While every member of the gang looks out for one another, the incident where Johnny was beaten within an inch of his life had profound impact on them because of the way the gang perceives him. Johnny and Ponyboy, as the youngest members of the group, are defended by the older members of the gang without hesitation. Both of the young men are also considered to be kinder than the rest of them, as though they are still perceived to have a sense of optimism and hope in them. The juxtaposition of Ponyboy 's relationship with his elder brother Darry and the affection that Dally has for Johnny demonstrates that Johnny is quite literally a younger brother figure. This is especially important, because it simultaneously shows the collapse of childhood innocence, and the desperation to maintain it against a bleak outlook on life. It is ultimately Johnny 's beating by the Socs, the powerful elite of their town, that results in Ponyboy 's imminent struggle with understanding the social forces at work. It is Johnny 's beating that begins the process of disillusionment for Ponyboy, especially as he begins to relay the tale of how they found Johnny that night to Cherry Valance, and exacerbates Ponyboy 's growing dissatisfaction with the established status quo between the Socs and
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