Social class describes the different "layers" that exist in society. These "layers," or classes in society, are a division that civilization has been running on ever since the beginning of mankind. In most modern societies, our system of social class division is one of opportunity. We experience a good deal of social mobility, where people through generations or in their own lifetime can move up or down the social scale. By examining the many different perceptions of social class along with S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, it is illustrated that social class has an impact on people while they are growing up, and will usually deny them from rising above adversity.
Many people have tried to figure out exactly what it is that makes up a particular social class. In Medieval times, the "Feudal System" was the structure of social division used among landowners. The nobles of the time were the landowners, who with their family tradition, privilege and knightly conduct became the dominant ruling group (Poore). On the other hand, the peasants of this time were forced into extensive labor, rarely rising above their hardships. In the early 1900's, racial grouping was the structure used in the American South. The African Americans at the time were at the bottom of the social ladder, whereas the plantation owners who controlled them were at the top of the social ladder. Again, this class profiling rarely allowed the African Americans to upgrade on the ladder. In S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, their structure of social class was focused on wealth, peer relations, fragile homes, and danger on the streets. As it seems evident throughout all of the different social class structures, the potential for social mobility does not appear very likely.
Discussing the facts of the book is important to serve as a future reference when referring back to specific parts. It is also important because without examining the nature of the book, one will not be able to comprehend the beliefs and views that others have about it. To start out, The Outsiders is a story about the hardships and accomplishments experienced by the Greasers and the Socs, two rival gangs living in the inner city in the early 1960's. The name of the book reflects the story because the Greasers are the social outcasts and misfits of the city, whereas the Socs are the elite class. Ponyboy is the narrator and main character, and lives with his brothers as a greaser. One day Ponyboy and Johnny, Ponyboy's best friend, get jumped by a group of Socs. The Socs initiate a fight and try to drown Ponyboy in a fountain. Johnny, thinking they might actually kill Ponyboy, kills the Soc trying to drown him with his switchblade. Not knowing what to do, Ponyboy and Johnny run to a fellow Greaser, Dally, who gives them some money, a gun, and a place to hideout. They hide in a church outside their town for a week until Dally says it's okay to come out. They go out to eat and when they get back the find the church to be on fire. Realizing that there are kids inside, and their own cigarettes maybe have started the fire, they run inside to try and save the kids. Johnny and Dally are hurt in the fire and taken to the hospital. They are both hailed as heroes in the local paper. Hearing about a rumble that will be taking place against the Greasers and the Socs, Dally breaks out of the hospital to fight in it. The Greasers beat the Socs in the rumble, but Johnny ends up dying from his injuries from the fire in the hospital. When Dally finds out about Johnny, he goes out and in his anger and confusion robs a grocery store. When the cops pull up to him, he pulls out an empty gun and the cops shoot and kill him (Phillips).
Plutarch once said, "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics" (Kearl). In today's society, social class is typically influenced by one's background and wealth. This usually determines the success or failure in peoples' lives. If someone is...
Cited: Kearl, Michael C. "Explorations in Social Inequality." A Sociological Tour Through Cyberspace. Abstract. February 1, 1996. (http://www.trinity.edu/mkearl/strat.html)
Lipset, Seymour Martin
Phillips, Brain. "The Outsiders." Sparknotes on The Outsiders. Abstract. March 5, 2002. (http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/outsiders/)
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