In the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the author shows that it is difficult to show one’s true self when society perceives emotions as weaknesses. Ponyboy, a member of gang called the Greasers, has grown up in poverty around tough people. By living with his gang, he has learned that allowing emotions to be seen by others exposes weaknesses. During the novel, he must hide his true emotions from feared enemies, a toughened ally, and during a visit to a dying friend. Through many situations, he finds that it is difficult to be one’s real self if feelings are seen as vulnerabilities.
Near the beginning of the novel, Ponyboy is confronted by the gang’s enemies, the Socs, and must conceal his emotions in order to appear tough. After a heated argument with his older brother, Darry, Ponyboy flees from his house in tears. He finds his friend and gang-member, Johnny, in a vacant lot and they decide to walk to the park to lessen Ponyboy’s agitation. As they loiter at the park, they meet a couple of drunk Socs. Ponyboy knows that these Socs are furious because Johnny and Ponyboy had spent time with their girlfriends. As they approach in a drunken stupor, Ponyboy and Johnny are very scared, “but [they would] never let [the Socs] have the satisfaction of knowing it”(55). Ponyboy and Johnny are frightened, because they are outnumbered and only armed with Johnny’s flimsy switchblade, but wear a tough face and hide their true selves. They have learned that allowing others to see their fear would make them seem weak, so must ignore their emotions. They must veil their terror as well as their true selves, knowing that society sees them as weaknesses.
Later in the story, Ponyboy must hide his true emotions again when discussing hunting with Dally, his toughened ally. Dally takes Ponyboy and Johnny to a restaurant and while eating, and the group discusses the country. POnyboy