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Free Study Guide: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton - Free BookNotes

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THE OUTSIDERS: LITERARY CRITICISM / LESSON PLANS

CHAPTER 4

Summary

The Socs in the blue Mustang spy Pony and Johnny and follow them to the park. Pony is apprehensive because he knows the boys are drunk, and there is no way for him and Johnny to escape. As Johnny reaches for his switchblade, the unarmed Pony wishes he had the broken bottle with him. When the Socs, including Bob and Randy, emerge from the car, they try to provoke the Greasers, calling them “dirt” and “white trash with long hair.” Pony is enraged and shouts back at them. In turn, they catch him and shove his face in the fountain; he almost chokes to death before falling on the pavement.

Suddenly all the Socs disappear. It is because Johnny, in self-defense, has killed Bob. Pony and Johnny are both confused and frightened over what has happened. They decide to go and find Dally to seek his help. When they explain everything to him, Dally gives Pony some dry clothes, a loaded gun, and fifty dollars. He instructs his two friends to hop on the three-fifteen freight train to Windrixville, where they can hide in the old abandoned church on the top of Jay Mountain. He also tells them to buy a week’s supply of food before going to the hide-out.


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.

Notes

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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