Theme of Loyalty in The Outsiders

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Words: 622 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 622|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

The concept of loyalty is a recurring theme in S.E. Hinton's novel, The Outsiders. Set in the 1960s, the story follows a group of teenagers from different social classes who form strong bonds of loyalty. Loyalty is explored through various characters and their relationships, highlighting the importance of trust and commitment in the face of adversity. This essay will delve into the theme of loyalty in The Outsiders, analyzing key examples of loyalty in the text, and discussing their implications. Ultimately, it will argue that loyalty is a fundamental aspect of human nature that transcends societal divisions.

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The greasers, a group of lower-class teenagers in the novel, exhibit unwavering loyalty towards one another. One example of this loyalty is evident in the relationship between Ponyboy Curtis and his brothers, Sodapop and Darry. Despite their difficult circumstances, the brothers remain fiercely loyal to one another. For instance, when Ponyboy gets into trouble, Darry sacrifices his own dreams and aspirations to take care of his younger brother. This loyalty is also seen in the greasers' defense of one another against the rival group, the Socs. In a fight between the two groups, the greasers stick together and support each other, emphasizing the importance of loyalty within their tight-knit community.

Johnny Cade, one of the greasers, demonstrates remarkable loyalty throughout the novel. Despite being physically weak and timid, Johnny is fiercely dedicated to his friends and is willing to go to great lengths to protect them. This loyalty is exemplified when Johnny kills Bob, a Soc, to save Ponyboy from further harm. Although Johnny's actions are extreme, they highlight the depth of his loyalty and his willingness to sacrifice himself for his friends. Furthermore, Johnny's loyalty extends beyond just the greasers; he also shows loyalty to a fellow Soc, Cherry Valance, by keeping her secret when she helps the greasers. This loyalty transcends social boundaries and emphasizes the complexity of human relationships.

While loyalty is a prevailing theme in The Outsiders, the novel also explores instances of betrayal. One example of betrayal is seen in the character of Dallas Winston, also known as Dally. Dally is initially portrayed as a loyal member of the greasers, but his loyalty is ultimately tested. When Johnny dies, Dally's loyalty falters, and he becomes consumed by anger and despair. This leads him to engage in reckless behavior, ultimately resulting in his own death. Dally's betrayal of his loyalty highlights the devastating consequences of losing faith in one's friends and the importance of maintaining loyalty even in the face of tragedy.

The theme of loyalty extends beyond just the greasers and their immediate community. The novel also explores loyalty among outsiders, such as the character of Cherry Valance. Although Cherry is a Soc, a member of the privileged social class, she shows loyalty by helping the greasers and even testifying on their behalf in court. Her loyalty challenges the preconceived notions of social divisions and suggests that loyalty can bridge the gap between different social groups. This highlights the universal nature of loyalty and its ability to transcend societal boundaries.

In conclusion, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton portrays the theme of loyalty as a fundamental aspect of human nature. Through various characters and their relationships, the novel explores the significance of trust, commitment, and sacrifice. Loyalty is evident among the greasers, particularly in the bond between Ponyboy and his brothers, as well as in the loyalty of Johnny Cade. However, the novel also delves into instances of betrayal, exemplified by Dally's actions. Furthermore, loyalty is not limited to the greasers alone, as characters like Cherry Valance demonstrate loyalty across social boundaries. Ultimately, The Outsiders emphasizes the universal nature of loyalty and its ability to unite individuals despite their differences.

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Hinton, S.E. The Outsiders. Penguin Books, 1967.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Theme of Loyalty in The Outsiders. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Theme of Loyalty in The Outsiders.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Theme of Loyalty in The Outsiders. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Theme of Loyalty in The Outsiders [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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