25 September 2007

Staying gold

I really enjoyed reading Dale Peck's examination of the literary references in The Outsiders. He provides example after example, elucidating exactly why Hinton's book is so important:
The intertextual musings come to a head when Johnny tells Pony that Dallas reminds him of the Southern men in “Gone With the Wind,” which the two boys have been reading to combat boredom while they hide from the police. In Johnny’s view, Dally’s refusal to turn in his friend Two-Bit for vandalism is like the Confederate rebels’ “riding into sure death because they were gallant.” Pony initially rejects this reading, but something about it nags him: “Of all of us, Dally was the one I liked least. He didn’t have Soda’s understanding or dash, or Two-Bit’s humor, or even Darry’s superman qualities. But I realized that these three appealed to me because they were like the heroes in the novels I read. Dally was real. I liked my books and clouds and sunsets. Dally was so real he scared me.”

This is good stuff — great stuff for a teenager. Dally’s “realness” is made apparent by characters in a book; by contrast, the other members of the gang, who’ve limited themselves to playing roles they’ve picked up elsewhere, are suddenly seen as less real, enabling Pony to understand why, at the beginning of the novel, Cherry Valance shyly declared, “I kind of admire him.” What goes unsaid until the end of the story is that Pony, like Dally, needs a book to explain him, but is forced to write it himself.
(via Maud)

Now I've got The Innocence Mission's lovely song "Walking Around" swirling in my head...
Rain happens into my room at night,
when there is so much time to miss you.
Beautiful changes I've seen sometimes,
the clouds changing into reindeer and flying
to places clear of sorrow.

Walking around.
You know I've had enough of this trouble
following me high and low. Now it can go.

Some boy I knew said, Hang on, stay gold,
before he left here for England.
Beautiful changes I feel sometimes,
in the middle of the late morning dishes
when you say I might do anything at all.

Walking around.
You know I've had enough of this trouble
following me high and low. Now it can go.


Brook said...

The Outsiders had SUCH a huge influence on me as a teenager, and Ponyboy's "bookishness" was probably a pretty key influence. Aside from reading all 4 of her novels many times back then, I also memorized my first poem (I'll give you one guess as to which one!), bought (but never read) Gone With The Wind, and read Great Expectations (perhaps too ploddingly at that age) all because of that book/movie. Though I developed a love of having books all around me, I never did develop an appreciation for Beach Blanket Bingo!

I never knew what influenced Hinton's writing though, and that was interesting to read. Put it in a cultural context that I've never really thought about.

amcorrea said...

It was a big influence on my sisters and brothers and me as well. It's always amazing to see how deeply books change us...and how we find our way to other works through them.

(And I love articles that discuss literary references and intertextuality.)