Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stay Gold

In this town there are The Greasers and the Socs. If you're a Greaser, you are lower income and the bottom of the barrel, however Socs have all the money, the expensive cars, and the higher class girls. Ponyboy and his older brothers, Sodapop and Darry, are Greasers. Their world is surrounded with heartache, money problems, and absentee parents. But, the boys are a family. Ponyboy lives with his brothers, but the rest of the gang runs deeper than blood. They look out for their own, and if that means rumbling with the Socs, then that's what they have to do.
The night Darry and Ponyboy get into a heated altercation is the night life begins to change. Now Johnny and Ponyboy are on the run, and what they discover together changes their visions on their gangs backgrounds, but also sends them spiraling into a fatal tragedy.

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton is a classic. It's one of those books you have to read, at least once. It had been a long time since I read this book, but upon rereading, I discovered new things that made me fall in love with it; so much so that I did favorite the book on shelfari.
This book has so many themes; friendship, family, and the war between socioeconomic groups. Ponyboy's journey has a deeper meaning than simply hiding from the cops, or growing up in the slums. It's his coming of age story when he truly discovers himself. At the end of the novel you realize this whole story was Pony's composition for English class. He wanted his story heard because he wanted others to learn from it. His dysfunctional family, which consists of his brothers and his gang brothers, prove to be important pieces in this world, and it's something that Pony keeps close. He discovers the anger behind Dallas, but also the reason he chose his path. He shows that a young teenager can overcome fears, death, anger, and the obstacles of being poor in a rich world.

It's also a chance for readers to discover the true meaning to "stay gold". Sure Frost's interpretation of the poem leaves readers with the metaphor of fall and how leaves change colors. When you go deeper, you realize "gold" is getting older, losing your sense of freedom and happiness. But this was not The Outsiders' message. "Stay Gold" implies being true to yourself; no matter what if you keep that in mind, no one can take that from you. And this is even more echoed in Johnny's parting words, "You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There's still lots of good in the
After rereading this book I have discovered a lot more as well. My "gold" is to stay true to myself and make sure I don't lose that part of me. Crazy that a simple young adult book could affect someone's view, but this one really makes you think. We all have a little bit of Ponyboy inside; we all have that love for a good sunset, or a new dawn. This fictional interpretation of gang life sheds new light and shows that everyone has problems, it just depends on where and what.
Read this book, or reread it. After revisiting it years later, it has become a new favorite in my collection. And...who wouldn't want to date Dallas or Soda? I mean cute guys that are rough around the edges? Hell yea!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sounds of the Great Depressions

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck tells the tale of two migrant workers during the Great Depression. Work was scarce, but Lennie and George traveled ranch to ranch in hopes of purchasing land. Their dream was to own their own land, live off it, and have animals (especially rabbits) for Lennie to tend to.
They arrived at Curly's father's ranch in hopes of getting work. Both men are in search of their American Dream, which appears only just out of reach. However, with Lennie's mental disability and the past not so far behind, the two men have a struggle; and it only takes one night for their lives to change.

I revisited this novel because I am teaching it for my Sophomore American Literature class. I am not a John Steinbeck fan. He has a lot of overly done description, in my opinion, and I just can't connect with the characters or the setting on any of his novels; then I reread this one.
Lennie is such a likeable character. You know off the bat he has a mental illness, but he is so loving, so caring, and all he wants is something soft to touch. He gets in his own way, and it is because of his past run in that he and George  continue to look for work. Lennie seems to not fit into this society, and it almost seems like he never will be able to blend in. In the end, George knows this in his heart, and he makes a decision that could be seen as questionable. It really does play with the reader because you wonder "should I be okay with this?", and "was there another way"?
This novel has so much emotion embedded in it that it's hard to read and not think about. It does a great job of showing readers the view of the Great Depression in the 30s; people were forced to work odd jobs in order to just make a few bucks. And it wasn't easy work. But you can see how the characters relate to each other; how the other migrant workers have their quirks, but they are, overall, a good bunch of people who look out for each other.
It really goes to show you the difference between now and the past. Nowadays odd jobs are known as minimum wage, and you can't trust a person father than you can throw them. 
After revisiting this novel I did change my mind. Instead of disliking it because it was a Steinbeck novel, I found myself actually enjoying it. I liked it because it made you feel emotions for the characters; it made you sad, or angry. Any book that gets an emotional reaction is usually a good one for me. It's a quick read, literally I finished the book in a day, and it is a thought provoking one. Chances are anyone who has read it has made their mind up about the content and the likeability of the novel, so reading this won't make or break anyone's opinion. But it is a book that shows friendship, companionship, and the overall moral that life is hard, but sometimes doing the "right thing" is harder.