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How Is Death Presented in the Novels 'of Mice and Men' and 'the Outsiders'

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How is death presented in the books ‘Of Mice And Men’ and ‘The Outsiders’.

Both Steinbeck and Hinton use effective techniques to present death in the books ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘The Outsiders’. One of the many techniques used by Steinbeck is the death of Aunt Clara as this tragedy forced George to take care of Lennie. Similarly, in ‘The Outsiders’ the death of Ponyboy’s parents is one of the main reasons why he and his brothers (Darry and Sodapop) are members of the Greasers gang. As the book ‘Of Mice and Men’ develops, Candy’s dog gets shot, this forces Candy to think of his future and as a consequence he wants to be part of George and Lennie’s dream. This also made Candy lonely as his companions on the ranch. Furthermore, when Lennie kills Curley’s wife, Steinbeck uses words like ‘young’ and ‘pretty’ to make the reader’s point of view towards her be different than at the beginning of the book. This is seen as an unwilling murder since Lennie was only trying to make her stop screaming in order to prevent getting in trouble if George hears her, this incident also meant the end of George and Lennie’s dream, which George was not surprised of. In the last chapter of the book, readers are shocked when George kills Lennie, however Steinbeck made it obvious that George only did this to spare him from a painful death in the hands of Curley, this also meant a new friendship being formed: George and Slim’s. Early in the book ‘The Outsiders’ Johnny kills Bob, Hinton made the readers think that it was an act of self-defence, however others may think he simply wanted to kill a Soc, as both gangs are enemies, due to the social division which Hinton herself faced in high school, and also because of past conflicts Johnny had with ‘Socs’. Later in the book, Johnny dies trying to save the children in the burning church. This, for some readers, may be seen as if he died a hero, but for others a murderer as he killed Bob, Hinton makes sure this is up to the reader’s opinion. As a consequence of Johnny’s death, Dally robs a grocery store with an unloaded gun, he did this on purpose since he knew he was going to get shot at, Hinton uses this technique to make the readers know that Johnny was the only thing that Dally really loved.

The death of Ponyboy’s parent affects the book significantly as it is one of the main reasons why Darry, Sodapop and Ponyboy are members of the ‘Greasers’ gang. This is obvious when Ponyboy says, “I could have gotten one of the gang to come along, one of the four boys Darry, Soda and I have grown up and consider family”)(Hinton, 1967). This shows how Ponyboy and his brothers use the gang to fill in for their parent’s absence. When Ponyboy says they have grown up with the gang it emphasizes that they are very close and consider themselves as family. Furthermore, this forces them to behave in order to stay together. (“The three of us get to stay together as long as we behave.”)(Hinton, 1967)

Since the beginning of the book it is clear to the readers that ‘Greasers’ and ‘Socs’ are enemies (“We get jumped by Socs.”)(Hinton,1967) This is mainly because of the social division there was, which Hinton also experienced in her high school. This brought various malicious consequences, the most important one being the death of Bob. This for some readers was seen as an act of self-defence as Bob was going to kill Ponyboy, (“I had to. They were drowning you Pony.”)( Hinton, 1967) However, earlier in the book Johnny states the following: “I will kill the next person that jumps me,”(Hinton,1967) therefore the murder of Bob might be also seen as an act of vengeance for the past conflicts Johnny has faced with regards to ‘Socs’. Hinton does not specify why did Johnny kill Bob and decides to let the readers have their own opinion about the murder. In my opinion Johnny did this as an act of vengeance since he was infuriated with all the times the ‘Socs’ have jumped him he saw the opportunity to kill Bob and took it. However, Hinton makes sure that readers do not see him as a cold-blooded murderer as even though he had different reasons to kill Bob as mentioned earlier, Johnny did save his best friend.

As the book develops, Johnny dies trying to save the kids in the burning church. This made the reader think of him as a hero, despite killing Bob. Furthermore this affected Ponyboy as, because of this he will try to stay innocent because Johnny told him to “stay gold”(Hinton, 1967) which meant he wanted Ponyboy to keep his golden qualities that set him apart from his companions such as honesty and wisdom. However, this made Dally to commit assisted suicide as he robbed a grocery store with an unloaded gun, knowing that he was going to get shot at. This shows how Johnny was the only thing Dally really loved. Earlier in the book when Ponyboy says: “Johnny was Dally’s pet”(Hinton,1967) emphasizes how Dally treated Johnny as his favorite of the gang.

After Johnny’s death, Ponyboy narrates how Dally “Ran out like the devil was after him. He’s gonna blow up. He couldn’t save it.”(Hinton, 1967) The use of the word devil show how highly unpleasant the situation was in that moment. Also the fact that Dally’s reaction towards Johnny’s death was running makes the readers know that something terrible is about to happen, keeping in mind Ponyboy’s description of how he said that Dally was going to blow up. Dally then robs a grocery store. He knew the cops were going to shoot him and therefore this is as seen as if he wanted to die. After Dally dies, Ponyboy says: “Two friends of mine had died that night; one a hero, the other a hoodlum.”(Hinton, 1967) Readers are forced to examine the question, who is the hero and who is the hoodlum. Johnny could be seen as the hoodlum for killing Bob and, as stated earlier, it could be seen as an act of vengeance. Ponyboy says that Dally has always been “young, violent and desperate”(Hinton, 1967) which shows how he also can be the hoodlum. As for being heroes, Johnny saved the children in the burning church, however Dally risked going to jail in order to help Ponyboy and Johnny escape to the church, as a consequence of Bob’s death. In my opinion Ponyboy is referring to each character’s last actions to determine who was the hero and who was the hoodlum, therefore Johnny is the hero as he died trying to save the children in the burning church, and Dally the hoodlum as he died after robbing a grocery store. The answer to the questions is simply based on the reader’s point of view.

In the book ‘Of Mice and Men’, similar to ‘The Outsiders’, a parental figure dies, Aunt Clara. This has a great impact on the book since it is the reasons why George takes care of Lennie throughout the novel. When George says: “I knowed his Aunt Clara.



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