Johnny Cade

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Johnny Cade, the sympathetic and lovable character from the classical realistic fiction novel “The Outsides” by renowned author S.E. Hinton is one of the most complex and confusing characters in the novel. Johnny is a very special character because he is so different in so many ways to the other protagonists in this novel. He himself who is both quiet and passive is forced to take refuge with the violent and active gang of the greasers by his abusive family. Throughout the novel he is the main catalysis of most of the major events in the novel, through his small acts of courage, he leads both himself and Ponyboy into a whirlwind of adventure including murder, death and heroism making him one of the most loved character of the novel. One of the many things that make Johnny so special is how universal his character is. Like the story of Harry Potter, Johnny’s story can also be related to by almost anyone whether it is through his adventures, lessons learned, history or character. His character has become a universal symbol for innocence, peace, fear, abuse and distinction.

Johnny Cade is a weak and vulnerable sixteen-year-old boy in a gang that is defined by their sense of toughness and invincibility. He comes from an extremely abusive home and needs the greaser gang just as much as they needed him. He needs them for protection and a sense of purpose. While the gang needs him because Johnny gives them a sense of purpose and justification of their violence without Johnny, the gang would be next to nothing. Johnny has big black eyes, a tanned face, jet-black hair with grease in it and has a slight build. Due to his father constantly beating him and his mother who always ignores him the greasers are always looking out for Johnny and trying to protect him. Dally who is the leader of the greasers especially watches out for Johnny, in return he hero worships Dally. Throughout the novel Johnny changes at various times. First a usually mild and quiet Johnny murders Bob and then takes control of the situation proven by when he told Ponyboy to go to Dally knowing he will get them out of trouble and when he goes out and gets supplies. Later on he changes in his relationship with Ponyboy, during their five-day stay in Windrixville they both grow extremely close, even closer than they were before.

As the story begins, Johnny is revealed as a shy and frightened boy belonging to a gang of greasers. Later on in the story, Johnny who is normally shy and quiet stands up to Dally, the most stereotypical gangster in the book, and tells him to stop harassing two Socs girls, Cherry and Marcia. Johnny’s help with Dally pleases both of the girls and they walk with the greasers. On the way to Cherry and Marcia’s home they encounter the girls boyfriends they take back the girls and leaves the Ponyboy and Johnny to walk home. The interaction between them and the female greasers creates a motive for the Socs to attack. Ultimately, Johnny’s small act of courage leads to murder, heroic rescues and death. He goes out in peace by stating that he would gladly die for the lives of little children.

In the beginning, Johnny is revealed as a shy, fearful, vulnerable and quite character. As the book progresses, Johnny is revealed to posses a tragic past with abuse and violence that has help shape the character we all know and love. “ ‘I can’t take much more.’ Johnny spoke my own feelings. ‘I’ll kill myself or something’.“ Pg. 47 P. 8. That would have been first time many of the readers may consider that Johnny may be suicidal. Before this moment in the book, Johnny is both shown as hurt, hopeless and depressed but never quite suicidal. Just before this moment in the book, Johnny and Ponyboy meet with Marica and Cherry’s boyfriends whom left them to walk back home alone. The importance of the location of the quote is quite significant. When Johnny said, “I can’t take much more.” PG.47 P.8 He is referring to him being a greaser and not...
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