SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS FOR THE OUTSIDERS
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Additional Discussion Questions
1. Who is the antagonist in this movie? Sometimes the antagonist can be something other than a person. Suggested Response: The antagonist is the hatred and violence between the rival groups. Bob could be said to be the antagonist, but this exaggerates his role.
2. What is the message of Robert Frost's poem Nothing Gold Can Stay? How does this relate to the themes of the movie? Suggested Response: The poem describes the progression of a plant from its first golden bloom in Spring, then to tiny flowers, and finally to a mature leafy growth. It points out that the "gold", the first bloom, cannot stay. There are at least two ways in which this relates to the story of "The Outsiders". First, this is a coming-of-age movie in which, like the plant, teenagers are growing up. The poem celebrates this as inevitable, telling us that nothing as beautiful, young, and tender as the first growth can stay. But there is a second meaning to "The Outsiders" which culminates in Johnny's instruction to Ponyboy to "stay gold". The term "gold" in this sense means a youth, including the innocence, the freshness, the goodness that comes with the first blush of life, and staying true to yourself. Johnny is telling Ponyboy and the reader to keep as much of the "gold" as possible. See response to the Quick Discussion Question.
3. How much of what happened to Johnny was the result of his dysfunctional family? Suggested Response: A lot of it. Johnny was on his own because of his dysfunctional family. He was without resources, other than his friends. However, the corrosive environment of hatred and violence is also very harmful to Johnny.
4. What is the importance of schooling and education in this movie? Suggested Response: Education is a way out. For Ponyboy it is a way to define himself outside of the restrictions imposed on the Greasers. It is also an escape from the lower class, the poverty, and the danger of his social situation. His oldest brother, Darry, wanted to continue his education, but couldn't because he had to take care of his two younger brothers. Darry encourages Ponyboy to keep learning, to use education as a tool to free himself from the confines of his environment.
5. When Randy and Ponyboy were talking in the car, the day of the rumble, Randy said that despite the outcome of the fight, "Greasers will still be Greasers, Socs will still be Socs." Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Defend your position. Suggested Response: Randy was right. Socs will still go to college and get good jobs and Greasers will not further their eduction and will be relegated to low paying blue collar jobs. Randy also means that no matter what the outcome of the fight, the two groups will still be rivals. As Johnny said when he was told about the Greaser's victory in the rumble: "It's useless. Fighting ain't no good."
6. Who are "The Outsiders"? Suggested Response: "The Outsiders" are the Greasers. They are the lowest class of society. Most people they meet dislike them. They are feared by others. But in one sense, all of the teenagers are outsiders because they have not yet found their place in society.
7. In a time of crisis, you never know how someone is going to react. You don't know in advance who is going to come through and who is going to fail. How is this shown in the movie? Suggested Response: The Sunday School teacher, the man who had responsibility for the children in the burning church, was unable to bring himself to enter the fire. It was the juvenile delinquents, Johnny, Ponyboy and Dally, who saved the kids from the burning building. Another example is that Dally, the tough guy, couldn't deal with Johnny's death.
8. Where are the parents in this movie? Suggested Response: Ponyboy's parents were killed in a car crash. The other parents are absent or destructive, like Johnny's parents. They have no positive input into their children's lives.
9. Why did the Socs hate the Greasers so much? Suggested Response: This is not explained and, in life, sometimes people are subjected to irrational, unreasoning hatred and dislike because of the group that they belong to. Examples are racism and anti-Semitism.
10. Who was more of a menace to society, the Socs or the Greasers? Suggested Response: Clearly, in this story it was the Socs. They were aggressive and persecuted the Greasers.
11. The Outsiders was set in the 1960s and written in the 1960s, yet it still remains very popular. Why is this story so timeless? Suggested Response: What about Romeo and Juliet, who were young lovers who had to contend with a society about as violent and sick with hatred as the society shown in this story? Romeo and Juliet's love could not prevail against the hatred around them. What about Hamlet, a play about a teenager whose father was murdered by his uncle so that the uncle could take the inheritance and marry the teenager's mother? Hamlet is all about how this teenager, in an incredibly weak position, overcame obstacles to find justice. The problems of teenagers are structural. They relate to facing adult challenges and trying to find their way in society for the first time and often from a relatively weak position. Thus there are strong parallels between the situation of teenagers, at least from Shakespeare's time, to our own. In addition, cliques have permeated high schools for decades and will probably do so for decades to come.
12. Darry, Ponyboy's oldest brother, is an important character in the movie and is used to demonstrate one of the basic themes of the film. What about him is so important and what is the theme? Suggested Response: Darry was on his way to becoming a Soc. He was a football star and he made good grades. He had a lot of friends among the Socs. However, he had to drop out of school when his parents died. He was then classified as a Greaser and the friendships were lost. One point the author is trying to make here is that there is no difference between these two groups other than circumstances of birth and random events in life.
13. What is suicide by cop? Does this movie show a suicide by cop? Suggested Response: Suicide by cop is when a person deliberately provokes a peace officer to kill him. What happened was not entirely clear but it looked like Dally was trying to get the cops to kill him. At least the class can have a good debate about this.
The following two questions should be asked together:
14. Except for Ponyboy and Darry, where do you think most of the Greasers would be in ten years, in terms of their work and social status? What about the Socs? Suggested Response: Most of the Greasers will be working low paid blue collar jobs and most of the Socs will be out of college starting their careers in the white collar work force. Ponyboy and Darry have a chance to break out of those stereotypes.
15. In this story what happened to the American Dream? Do the Greasers believe that they can become anyone they want to be? Suggested Response: The Greasers, beaten down by their circumstances, don't participate in the American Dream, except for Ponyboy. One can also hope that Darry will be able to go back to school once his younger brothers are self-supporting. The Socs and their parents live the American dream but we don't see it making them all that happy. In many ways, this story shows the end of the American Dream.
Several other themes of the movie are discussed in the Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions and in the Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions.
CINEMATIC-LITERARY DEVICES IN THE MOVIE
16. In this story, we see events from the standpoint of Ponyboy. How does this cinematic-literary device affect the impact that the movie has on the viewer? How does this device affect the meaning of the movie for teenagers? Suggested Response: The fact that the story is told from the point of view of one of the characters makes the story very immediate and powerful. We (the audience) identify with Ponyboy and, as he learns, we learn. The fact that the story is told from the point of view of someone their age gives the movie a special meaning for teenage viewers. In that sense, Johnny's exhortation to Ponyboy to "stay gold" is a plea to all of us.
17. Which of the characters in this film could be considered a hero? Suggested Response: Johnny, for saving the children (and perhaps for saving Ponyboy, although he did kill someone in that process); Ponyboy, for saving the children, and Darry, for sacrificing his dreams and going to work to keep his family together.
18. A protagonist is considered the most important character in a story. Typically it is the actions of the protagonist that drive the plot. Often it is the protagonist who changes based on what happens in the story. Who is the protagonist in this story? Suggested Response: There are two protagonists. Ponyboy appears to be the main character because the movie starts and ends with him. In addition, the narrative follows Ponyboy through most of the story. But Ponyboy is almost an observer and certainly it isn't his actions which drive the plot. While Ponyboy learns from experience, much of it is taught by Johnny, who learns much more. In addition, it is Johnny's actions that drive the plot. He stands up to Dally to protect Cherry, setting up the friendship with the Soc girls that helps motivate the attack in the playground. It is Johnny who kills Bob to protect Ponyboy and it is Johnny who joins Ponyboy in the burning church to save the children. It is Johnny's death that drives Dally to despair. It is Johnny who teaches Ponyboy the main lesson of the book. Johnny is as much the protagonist, if not more so, than Ponyboy. Therefore, in this story it can be said that there are two protagonists.
19. Is this a story with a classic protagonist who changes and grows to meet the challenges posed by his circumstances? Think of how Luke Skywalker grew to meet challenges in the first Star Wars movie. Suggested Response: Yes and no. Ponyboy doesn't grow and learn to slay the enemy as Luke did. Johnny's action in killing Bob is one of the worst things that could happen to him. Ponyboy and Johnny grow by saving the children in the church and by growing in understanding. The thing that needs to be overcome in this story is not a person or a group of persons. (The Socs are not what need to be overcome. In fact, the characters acknowledge that the Greasers victory over the Socs in the rumble will not do the Greasers any good.) The corrosive hatred that the teenagers have for each other and their willingness to resort to violence is the antagonist in this story.
20. A child character in a story who by his or her death saves the other characters is a frequent theme of literature. Could Johnny be considered a child savior? Defend your conclusion. Suggested Response: An argument can be made that Johnny is a child savior. He dies, not only so that the children in the church may live, but his death also helps Ponyboy to mature and understand his world better. His death helps, to some extent, bring the Socs and the Greasers together because Cherry and Randy testify truthfully at Ponyboy's hearing. This is not complete because Cherry still can't bring herself to talk to Ponyboy at school. However, there is a difference between Johnny's story and the classic child savior tale in that Johnny didn't intend to sacrifice himself. He would have been happy to have saved the children in the burning church and given Ponyboy good advice without getting injured. Note also that Johnny's death doesn't help Dally. An example of a classic child savior tale is contained in the movie Behind the Sun. The most important and famous child savior is, of course, Jesus Christ.
21. Compare the story of Johnny to the story of another savior, Jesus Christ. How are they the same and how are they different? In your answer, treat the story of Jesus as a piece of literature. (This is not a question about religion but about comparative literature, treating the Bible as a work of literature.) Suggested Response: Johnny and Jesus both die for the sins of others. Johnny dies for the sins of the Socs and the Greasers -- for a society which is obsessed with hatred and violence. Johnny's injuries are permanent because we are only human and we cannot escape the laws of cause and effect. Jesus, in the story told in the New Testament, partakes of divinity. He dies for the sins of others (all mankind) but, being divine, he is resurrected and then ascends to heaven. In short, the primary difference between the fate of Johnny and Jesus comes from the fact that Johnny is human and Jesus is divine. Another difference is that Johnny did not intend to sacrifice himself, while Jesus did.
22. Johnny teaches Ponyboy by his life, his words and his death. Dally is the other Greaser who dies. Is there anything to learn from his life and death? Is he a child savior like Johnny? Suggested Response: Certainly, much is to be learned from Dally's life and death, i.e., don't deny your feelings; don't be tough so that you won't get hurt because you'll get hurt anyway; and don't engage in risky behavior such as robbing a store or running from the police. But Dally doesn't sacrifice himself for others, like Johnny did and the lessons from Dally's life come from his weaknesses, not his strengths.
23. Throughout the movie, and in the book, we are inundated with different slang words and phrases like "cancer stick", rumble, dig, Greaser, Soc, etc. How does youth vernacular play a role in youth culture? Suggested Response: It is a way of setting the kids apart from their parents' generation and establishing an independent identity.
GETTING INTO THE CHARACTERS
24. Dally said that a person had to be hard in this world and not have feelings for anyone. He claimed to be that way himself. Was this an accurate portrayal or do you have a different analysis of his character? Suggested Response: Dally was the opposite of what he said he was. He hurt so much that he could manage the emotions only by denying them almost completely. Dally had been hurt so many times, by his parents, by girls, and by the indifference of society, that he developed a very tough shell. But the shell was very brittle and all the hurt was boiling inside him. In an unguarded moment he told Johnny that he didn't want to see Johnny get hardened in jail the way he had been. Dally cracked when Johnny, who was so good and so vulnerable and whom Dally loved, died. An argument can be made that he robbed the convenience store to attract the cops so that they could arrest or kill him.
25. Describe Cherry's character. Suggested Response: She saw what the Socs were doing to the Greasers and didn't like it. But she didn't have the courage to stand up to the ostracism that she would suffer if she openly criticized what her friends were doing or associated with Greasers who she liked, specifically Ponyboy.
26. Describe Johnny's character. Suggested Response: Johnny was the most vulnerable of the Greasers, but in some ways he was the strongest. A year or two older than Ponyboy, Johnny often looked younger. His family was dysfunctional and he found a family in the Greasers. Johnny was badly beaten by the Soc, Bob. Bob's rings injured him and after that Johnny felt afraid when he saw Socs, especially whenever he saw Bob's rings. But Johnny was a stand up guy. He stood up to his hero Dally when Dally was harassing Cherry and he did what he had to do to save Ponyboy's life. He went into the burning church to save the children trapped inside. Johnny hated his own loss of innocence and felt guilty about killing Bob, even though he believed he had to do it to save Ponyboy.
27. Contrast Dally and Johnny. Suggested Response: In some ways they were similar, but they had many differences. They were both Greasers. They were both courageous. Dally had a tough, brash and often rude exterior while Johnny was quiet, meek, and often fearful. However, Johnny was much stronger underneath than Dally. He did what he had to do against three larger Socs to save Ponyboy's life. He ran into the church to save the children. He faced his own death bravely and wrote a commanding letter to Ponyboy before he died. Dally could not take Johnny's death. He was so distraught that he exploded and was killed by the police.
28. Describe Darry's character. Suggested Response: Darry was willing to do what he had to do to keep his family together after his parents died. If that meant sacrificing his hopes to play football and get a scholarship to college, he was willing to do it. He would get irritable and upset and sometimes take it out on Ponyboy, for whom he had very high expectations. Darry's frustrations with his life situation were legitimate and his pressure on Ponyboy, while hard, was understandable. (In the story, there is one glaring inconsistency in Darry's character: his participation in the rumble. What if he had been arrested or if one of his brothers had been arrested? That would have led the social services agencies to break up the family for sure. Participating in the rumble is inconsistent with everything else we know about Darry.)
Ask the following two questions together:
29. Why was Dally so obnoxious to Cherry when they first met at the drive-in? Suggested Response: Dally was very attracted to her but knew she was unattainable because she was a Soc. As a result, he acted aggressively and made her uncomfortable. Cherry was having none of it and defended herself. Johnny, who usually did the right thing, stood up for her.
30. Why didn't Cherry ever want to see Dally again? Suggested Response: She told us. She was very attracted to him and could easily have fallen in love with him. She wouldn't let herself because she knew it would not be good for her and besides, he was a Greaser. This is an example of the fact that hate and love are not opposites but instead they are two sides of the same coin. The opposite of love is indifference.
31. Why did Ponyboy and Johnny turn to Dally, of all people, for help? Suggested Response: Johnny admired and respected Dally. They knew that Dally would be true to the gang's code of honor. After all, hadn't Dally gone to jail for something Sodapop did? He was very tough and they knew that he would admire what Johnny had done. He was considered street smart and experienced. He had many connections. It was Dally who knew of the secret location to hide out.
32. What determined if a kid was a Soc or a Greaser? Suggested Response: For most, it was the economic situation of their family. Only a few like Darry and Ponyboy could transcend it and they didn't do it with money, they did it within the context of education.
See also Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:
1. Describe the relationships between the brothers in the Curtis family. Suggested Response: They cared about each other. Darry was forced into the role of parent. He knew Ponyboy was talented and had high hopes for him. Even when Darry got angry at Ponyboy it was because he cared about him. Darry and Ponyboy had a tendency to quarrel, as is often the case with child/parent relations when the child is a teenager. Sodapop took on the role of mediator. For example, he explained to Ponyboy why Darry got angry at him so often. Ponyboy and Darry would ask Sodapop to take sides in their disputes. This eventually became too much for Sodapop. The brothers had some troubles (as when Darry pushed Ponyboy and Ponyboy ran away) but by the end of the film they had learned to resolve their differences by talking it out and being loving to each other.
2. Was Darry a good male role model? Why or why not? Suggested Response: Some might say he was a good model because he did everything he could for his brothers, and had basically become a parent. He provided for Ponyboy and Sodapop, and made sure that the family stayed together. It can also be said that Darry wasn't a good role model because he participated in the rumble and accepted fighting as a means to resolve disputes.
COMING OF AGE
3. Did Ponyboy change over the course of the movie? How? Suggested Response: Yes. He learned a lot about life and became more confident in himself and in his decisions. By the end of the movie, he had lost four important people in his life (his parents, Johnny and Dally) and this no doubt spurred some "growing up". He was always an intellectual boy, citing Gone With the Wind and Nothing Gold Can Stay. This quality was still evident as he completed his essay for school. He had evolved into a more peaceful, mature person by the end of the film.
4. What is coming of age? Did any character come of age in this movie? Suggested Response: Coming of age is when a person changes from an adolescent to an adult. If anyone came of age in this movie it was Johnny. Ponyboy made some real strides toward coming of age but the movie ends before he reaches true maturity.
5. What does this movie tell us about courage? Suggested Response: The movie tells us that true courage comes from caring. A good example is how the boys got hurt in the fire. First, Ponyboy ran toward the burning building to help the children. Then, Johnny came to help him. Together they went into the fire. Finally, Dally got out of the car and went to help his buddies. Ponyboy cared about the children. Johnny cared about Ponyboy and the children. Dally cared about Ponyboy and Johnny.
6. What is courage? Use an example from the movie to show what you mean. Suggested Response: Courage means being willing to risk life or limb or something you really want for a greater good. In this case, Johnny, Ponyboy and Dally risked being injured to save the children from burning to death in the church.
7. In this movie, what was the conflict about? Suggested Response: The conflict was between rival groups with different socioeconomic status. But that simply defines the conflict. It doesn't tell us what the conflict was about, i.e., why these kids hated each other. The Greasers are shown as the weaker group and the Socs as the aggressors. But the reason for the Socs' anger at the Greasers isn't really shown. And that's an important point of the story. There was no basic reason for the conflict and yet it resulted in the death of a young man. (Note that the precipitating factor for the attack on Johnny and Ponyboy at the playground was the fact that they had been talking to the Socs' girls. However, the basic conflict existed long before Johnny, Two-Bit and Ponyboy ever spoke to Cherry or Marcia.)
8. [Before asking this question, show the scene in which Romeo kills Tybalt from the Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet and the fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes from the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet. You can substitute, if you want, the scene in which Riff and Bernardo are killed in West Side Story.] Compare the fight scenes in "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet" with what occurred in the "The Outsiders". What does this tell us about fighting? Suggested Response: Fighting is very fluid and very risky. You don't know how it will turn out and even those who are bigger and more skilled (Tybalt), who have a secret weapon (Laertes), or who have superior numbers and more strength (the Socs) can lose the fight.
9. Were there any alternatives for Johnny to use the knife in the fight to try to stop the Socs from drowning Ponyboy? Suggested Response: Not really. There were three Socs, each of whom was bigger than he was. He had already suffered badly from a beating by Bob and had been injured by the rings on Bob's hands. To answer this question requires us to second-guess a very difficult decision that had to be made on the spur of the moment. However, in court, a judge or jury would want Johnny (or his defense to a murder or manslaughter prosecution) to answer this question.
10. Did any fight shown in this film solve any problem for any of the participants? Suggested Response: No. The Greasers got a sense of pride out of winning the rumble but the Socs would continue to harass Greasers when the Socs outnumbered them. The Socs would still go to college, get better jobs, and look down on the Greasers.
11. What would have happened had the Greasers lost the rumble? Suggested Response: Not much. They would have felt badly about it and taken it as one more sign of being oppressed by the upper classes and their own inferiority. The same dynamic of hatred between the two groups would have remained.
12. What characterized the relationships of the Greasers to each other? Suggested Response: Generally, the Greasers were good friends to each other. They had a code of loyalty which all of them respected. Here are some examples: Johnny attacked the Soc, Bob, so that he wouldn't drown Ponyboy. Ponyboy ran away with Johnny even though Ponyboy wasn't guilty of anything. Dally helped the boys escape. When one Greaser was in trouble, other Greasers would come to his aid.
13. What is the relationship between Johnny and Dally? Suggested Response: Johnny looks up to Dally and idolizes him. (He compares Dally to the Southern gentlemen in Gone With the Wind. Note that this ideal is pretty shallow.) Dally protects Johnny to the extent that he risks his probation by helping the younger boys escape and giving them a gun. He goes to the burning church to help Johnny and Ponyboy. Dally cares about Johnny so much that he cannot stand it when Johnny dies.
14. What friendships are shown that cross the Greaser/Soc line? What happens to them? How does this relate to a theme of the film? Suggested Response: There is the Ponyboy/Cherry friendship. They acknowledge their friendship but she won't greet him at school. There is the friendship between Darry and the football player who appears at the rumble. This friendship is no more because Darry is now a Greaser. There is the Two-Bit/Marcia friendship that lasts one night at the drive-in. Two-Bit throws her telephone number away because he realizes their relationship has no future. And then there is the friendship between Ponyboy and the Soc, Randy. That, too, goes nowhere.
15. Examine the various incidents of running away in this movie. Were they were effective responses to the situations that the characters encountered? Suggested Response: Before Bob was killed, Ponyboy ran away from home because Darry had pushed him. Johnny was running away with Ponyboy because Johnny's parents didn't appear to care for Johnny and they fought much of the time. As with so many other runaways, these boys put themselves at risk for someone trying to do them harm. In this case it was the Socs who found them in the park and tried to kill Ponyboy. Sometimes it is adults looking for sex with children or white slavers who offer desperate runaways shelter and friendship. (See, for example, the bus station scene in Pay It Forward.) For Johnny and Ponyboy, running away after Johnny killed Bob seemed to work. But that was an illusion. Johnny died as an indirect result of running away. Running away from a problem almost never helps and if you could be accused of a crime, running away can be used by the government as evidence of guilt. Finally, Dally was running away from just about everything all of his life. He could not face the deep psychological wounds that had been inflicted on him. This is dramatized at the end of the film as he runs away from the hospital where Johnny has died. He lashes out, which is the way he deals with disappointment. But is he really running away from the horror of Johnny dying or is Dally running toward his own death at the hands of the police? Both are true.
16. Name three instances in which kids tried to bridge the gap between Socs and Greasers. Suggested Response: Examples are: when Cherry and Marcia talked to Ponyboy and Johnny at the Drive-in; when Marcia gave Two-Bit her phone number; when Randy talked to Ponyboy before the rumble; when Cherry gave information to the Greasers and when, at the end of the movie, Cherry and Randy testified in Ponyboy's defense. Note that it was not until the end that the boundaries of gang and social class were transcended, but even that had limits because Cherry would still not talk to Ponyboy at school.
17. What role did peer pressure play in the conflict between the Greasers and the Socs? Suggested Response: It kept the groups apart. People who would normally like each other, such as Ponyboy and Cherry or Cherry and Dally or Ponyboy and Randy, couldn't form friendships because of pressure from their cliques.
18. Running into the burning church to save the children was the right thing to do. But did Johnny have another reason to try to save the children? Suggested Response: There are a couple of possible reasons. He could have been seeking redemption for killing Bob. Even if he thought it was necessary to kill Bob to save Ponyboy, it was a terrible thing to have to do. Saving the lives of the children redeemed him somewhat. Another possible reason is that he (and Ponyboy) were so sickened by the violence around them that they couldn't take it if the children died in the church. Another way to say this is that their world was so uncaring and cynical that they couldn't take it any more and had to act to save the kids. Yet another reason was that they thought that they might be responsible for the fire. They had been living in the church, cooking, and smoking cigarettes. All three of these motivating factors could have combined to cause them to run into the burning church.
Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)
1. How did the Greasers show that they understood the importance of this Pillar of Character? Suggested Response: The Greasers were loyal to each other and had a strong code of honor.
(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)
2. Ponyboy and Johnny ran away rather than face responsibility for Bob's killing. Did they do the right thing? Did they do the right thing to come back? Suggested Response: The boys were faced with a difficult choice. They didn't trust that they would get justice from the legal system which discriminated against Greasers. Ideally, they should have stayed and tried to establish their innocence. As soon as Johnny heard that Cherry would testify for the boys and he had a chance in court, he decided to come home.
3. Which character in the movie most exemplified this Pillar of Character? Suggested Response: It was Darry, because he gave up his chance at a football scholarship and college to take care of his brothers and keep the family together. Johnny, too, acted responsibly when he protected his friend Ponyboy.
(Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)
4. There was one underlying failure that led to the clash between the Socs and the Greasers. What was it? Suggested Response: Lack of respect.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
See Questions under Brothers and Friendship in the Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions.
1. For homework, or an in-class assignment, have students write an alternative ending to the movie describing what happened to Ponyboy and his family over the next five years. A good submission will include whether Ponyboy went to college, what Darry did after both Ponyboy and Sodapop reached 18, and what happened to Sodapop. A good submission will also bring in other characters like Cherry, Randy, and Two-Bit.
2. Have the class write the last five minutes of the movie, from the time that Johnny dies until the end, from the viewpoint of another character. You can split the class into groups and have them share their work with each other. Pick the most creative and interesting ones to read to the class.
Click here for a list of about 30 projects for the book, most of which can be easily adapted to the movie by Michaela Muller at Help4Teachers.com.
See also Additional Assignments for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
Links to the Internet:
Common Core State Standards that can be Served by this Learning Guide
(Anchor Standards only)
Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.
Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.
Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.
Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.
Selected Awards, Cast and Director:
Selected Awards: 1983 Moscow International Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola (director) nominated for the Golden Prize; 1984 Young Artist Awards, C. Thomas Howell (Ponyboy Curtis) won for Best Young Motion Picture Actor in a Feature Film; 1984 Young Artist Awards, nominated for Best Family Feature Motion Picture, and Diane Lane (Sherri "Cherry" Valance) nominated for Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.
Featured Actors: Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
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