Perspective In The Outsiders, And A Squatter's Tale

2148 words - 9 pages

Webster's online dictionary of the English Language defines outsider as follows:

Outsider n. 1. A person or thing not within an enclosure, boundary etc.  2. A person not belonging to a particular group, set, party, etc. 3. A person unconnected or unacquainted with the matter in question.  4. A racehorse, not classified among the best or among those expected to win.

Considering these definitions of the word, "outsider," one is struck by the eclectic array of meanings.  Sometimes words have multiple meanings that are ironically linked. Are people as multifaceted as words?  The fundamental laws of social relations call upon humans to attempt to fit in and belong.  So, striving ...view middle of the document...

Also, Ponyboy, the major character in The Outsiders,  lives a life of violence.  Ponyboy is a Greaser who is forced to co-exist with "the Socs, who jump Greasers and wreck houses" (Hinton 3). Robbery, rumbles, knife fights and domestic violence surround Ponyboy. Much of this adolescent's attention is focused on trying to look tough. In his Darwinian world this is necessary as a means of survival. 

 

        The stories contain a shared theme of dealing with issues of class. Obi abandons his traditional conservative job at CDB and goes to work for BTF a glitzy finance house.  Initially his success is limited, until he hooks into Sawa, the "Gorilla Millionaire" (Oguine 66).  Obi goes from being a typical working man to a rich hotshot.  He gets to experience what it is like to have a lot of money.  As a rich man, Obi is an outsider from the population.  Ironically, once he is in America, he finds himself alienated from Americans owing to his low economic class, just as Ponyboy's alienation from society is due to his low class.  As the title states, Ponyboy is an outsider mostly because of the poor economic conditions in which his family exists. As he is talking to Cherry Valance he points this out to her and she denies it saying, "you Greasers have a different set of values, you're more emotional" (Hinton 38).  Cherry feels that the Greasers are more in touch with their feelings and that the Socs are just superficial, and that is a part of the differences between them. Class struggles are at the root of the majority of history's wars.  In the words of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" (qtd. in Vitullo-Martin and Moskin 59).

 

        In spite of their similarities, Obi and Ponyboy deal with their problems in different ways.  Ponyboy is comfortable in his role as a Greaser, and seems to have a sense of self. He has proven to himself that he can be a Greaser and still be well educated.  Obi seems less sure of himself and how he fits into his environment.  It is ironic that only after being away from Nigeria that Obi begins to appreciate the culture of his homeland. He even establishes "an extensive soukous CD collection" (Oguine 131). In fact, he does not feel a part of America.  He has problems getting jobs. Racially he finds it hard to adapt, as he relates neither to whites or blacks. Obi fears getting drawn into "the permanent state of war between American policemen and young black men" (Oguine 118).  The other characters in A Squatter's Tale also have problems assimilating.  Ego does little to help Obi relate to others.  She has the same problems communicating with others because of her accent, and seems really hung up on the economic aspects of society, even while living in luxury. Ego's husband, Dr. Ezendu also feels like an outsider because of the discrimination he gets from patients and society.  However, he...

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