What does “Stay gold” mean in “The Outsiders”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
"Stay gold" is a memorable quote from S.E. Hinton's novel, "The Outsiders." It's a message "stay gold" means to stay true to oneself and not lose the youthful innocence and purity that defines a person. Johnny tells Ponyboy to "stay gold" before his death, as he wants his friend to remain true to himself and not become hardened by the harsh realities of life.
Detailed answer:

In "The Outsiders," "Stay gold" is a phrase that is repeated throughout the novel and is a symbol of innocence and beauty in a world full of violence and pain. The phrase is first introduced in a poem that Johnny reads to Ponyboy while they are hiding out in the abandoned church. The poem speaks of the fleeting nature of beauty and urges the reader to "stay gold" despite the harsh realities of life.

Later in the book, Johnny tells Ponyboy to "stay gold" as he dies from his injuries. This moment has a profound impact on Ponyboy, who realizes the importance of holding onto his own innocence and the goodness in the world. What did Johnny mean by "stay gold"? The phrase "stay gold" becomes a mantra for Ponyboy, reminding him to stay true to himself and not to give in to the violence and despair that surround him.

The phrase takes on even greater significance in the book's final scene when Ponyboy recalls Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay," which inspired the phrase. The poem speaks of the inevitability of change and loss, and Ponyboy realizes that he must cherish the memories of his friends who have died and hold onto the beauty and goodness that they represented.

In summary, "Stay gold" means a powerful symbol in "The Outsiders" that represents the fragility of innocence and beauty in a world full of violence and pain. It serves as a reminder to Ponyboy and the reader to hold onto the goodness in the world and to cherish the memories of those who have passed.

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