The Outsiders


Story Symbols and Themes

Symbols are the objects, characters, allusions, or other similar elements that are used to represent a specific concept or abstract idea

The Blue Mustang

The blue Mustang is the sign of the Socs and appears at prime moments in the story, almost always heralding trouble between the Socs and the greasers. The Mustang connects the events of the Socs retrieving their girls from the greasers, their attempts to kill Ponyboy and Johnny, and their unsuccessful ploy to threaten Ponyboy at the end. One of its more benign moments is when Randy, stepping from the Mustang, informs Ponyboy that he has resolved to "chicken out" of the rumble.

In past times, the Mustang was a new car. It was produced toward the end of 1964 (Flory, 2004). The fact that the Socs possessed it shows that they had money and illustrates, more than anything else in the tale, the huge gap between themselves and the greasers.

The Mustang, too, was popularized by its early appearance in the James Bond film Goldfinger the year earlier (1964) ( The symbolic connection of James Bond to the Socs, or to the gang warfare theme of this book, is striking.

The other car, the red Corvair, on the other hand, is mentioned less significantly as the car that trailed Ponyboy at the beginning of the tale. The other car that is red is Cherry's Corvette, the Sting Ray. These cars feature at the periphery of the narrative. It is the blue Mustang that takes center stage.


Just as the cars are symbols of the different lives that the gangs lead, so are their clothes. The greasers are tellingly dressed in "blue jeans and t-shirts or leave their shirttails outs and wear leather jackets" (19). Their hair, with the exception of that of Dallas, is uncut and smoothed with grease. Their deliberate impression is to appear wild, unwashed, unkempt, and carefree. Their appearance is a symbol of their lifestyle, which is...

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Essays About The Outsiders