The Outsiders Lesson 9: Paul Newman and a Ride Home

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10886

Ever ponder "What if?" Sometimes, when we don't like the way things turn out, we wonder what would have happened if . . . You can do that with The Outsiders with a choice of three thoughtful projects!


Literary Studies, Reading

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Take a moment to watch the conclusion of the novel, The Outsiders part 11, as Pony reads the letter written by Johnny when he accepts death in the midst of understanding life:

This final chapter of the novel leaves the reader with a great deal to consider when turning that final page.

In fact, many young adults who experience this novel for the first time are often left feeling a little uneasy at this point, but that's alright.

Now is your chance to step back and take a look at the novel as a whole, rather than in individual pieces as we have been.

Let's work backward and retrace the steps of all the characters in an attempt to find what really started all the problems early on in the novel. This will give us the opportunity to look for hidden or overlooked literary devices and symbolism we may have missed during the first read. We will also watch more clips from the movie, and do some further comparing and contrasting.

Begin with the final words of the novel that are also the beginning words of the novel. You learn in the last few pages that Ponyboy needs to write a theme for his English class in order to maintain a passing grade after missing so many days of school.

  • That opens up the question, "Is the entire novel his theme?"
  • Is Hinton putting herself into the role of Ponyboy to discuss these issues as though they are true events that have already occurred?
  • If so, how does that affect your reaction to — and opinion of — the novel?

A small step further back, and we revisit the Robert Frost poem Ponyboy recites when he and Johnny see the sun rise in Windrixville. Earlier in this unit, you were asked to find the allusion in the poem; that allusion has a great deal of significance for the setting and dynamic character of Ponyboy. In the event you missed that allusion, it is in fact "Eden," as in the Garden of Eden.

  • Think about why this Biblical allusion is significant in the context of the poem, and the poem's relevance to the novel.
  • Discuss this reference with your parent or teacher.

You may have also noticed a reference to the colors in the novel. Think about what it means to "Stay Gold," then relate it to the color green. Think about how Pony often refers to various individuals' eye color: he fights the fact that his eyes are green, he notices Cherry's green eyes ...

  • Do you think Hinton (through Pony's observations) is making a connection between personality and eye color?
  • Think back to any other color references and connections and write down in your writing journal what you think they mean.

Ponyboy is the central character of the novel, and the plot centers around his realization of the sacrifices Darry makes to keep him safe in the wake of their parents' death.

  • This being the case, what purpose do Johnny, Dally, and even Bob serve in the novel?
  • What do these three characters have in common, if anything?
  • Do you think Hinton was trying to send a message to a specific audience?
  • Do you think it was necessary for all three characters to die in order to make a point?

Johnny's letter serves as Pony's inspiration to do something about the violence and lost innocence.

Do you think if Dally had read Johnny's letter, he would still be alive?

Discuss and share your opinions with your teacher or parent.

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