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THE OUTSIDERS: LITERARY CRITICISM / LESSON PLANS
Pony and Johnny follow Dally’s orders and hop the freight train. As they are traveling, Pony dozes off. Johnny wakes him just before they have to jump off. When they inquire, a farmer directs them to Jay Mountain. On reaching the church, they discover that it is a small, kind of spooky, and filled with spider webs. Pony reminisces about the times when he used to go to the church with his parents; he remembers attending for awhile even after their death. He thinks about the last time he was in church; he had persuaded Soda, Steve, and Two-Bit to accompany him and Johnny to church. The behavior of his friends had embarrassed him so much that he has not gone to the church since then.
Once the boys are settled into the church, they immediately fall asleep on
the floor, for they are absolutely exhausted.
This chapter is very important, for it reveals the grim consequences of gang rivalry. Randy, Bob, and three other Socs want to teach Pony and Johnny a lesson for being friendly with their girls. As the two Greasers walk to the park, the Socs jump them. Pony is grabbed and his head is pushed in a fountain and held down until he almost drowns. The Socs also jump on Johnny, who clearly remembers being beaten up by the Socs once before. He pulls his switchblade, fighting for his life. In the process of defending himself, Johnny stabs and kills Bob. Pony is panic stricken when he discovers that his friend has committed murder. In contrast, Johnny seems relatively calm, except for his twitching hands. He is the one who thinks of going to Dally for help and remembers where to find him. Pony agrees that it is a good plan.
Dally tells the boys that they must go into hiding and instructs them to hop a freight train to Windrixville. There they can hide in an old abandoned church. Before the boys depart, Dally gives them a loaded gun and money. While on the train, Johnny stays awake so that they can jump off the train at the right place. In the boxcar, the enormity of his act hits him. He nostalgically wishes for the safety and warmth of his house; but he knows that there is no going back. He worries about being a fugitive, on the run for the rest of his life; but thoughts of the electric chair and the reformatory are even more distasteful to him.
Arriving in Windrixville, the two boys ask for directions to the church. They
find it to be a gloomy kind of place, filled with spider webs and in disrepair.
The bleak setting is an appropriate reflection of the bleak mood and foreshadows
worse things to come.
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