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“Don’t
judge a book by its cover”. We use this metaphor when someone judges someone
else just by their looks. This is called stereotyping, which is a great problem
in today’s society. It puts labels on how a
person should act or live according to their gender, race, personality, and
other facts. In “The Outsiders” this is also a grave issue. Socials, also
called Socs are the jet set West-side rich kids who can always get away with a
black eye because of their wealth. In the meantime, the Greasers are the
East-side kids who live in the poor side of town and are known for their greasy
long hair. There are three strong consequences of Stereotyping in this book:
violence, inferiority complex and the breakup of
relationships.

First of all, violence is a
consequence of stereotyping. “The Outsiders” consists of violence through and
through.” Greasers can’t walk alone too much, or
they’ll get jumped, or someone will come by and scream “Greaser!” at
them which doesn’t make you feel too hot if you know what I mean.” (Hinton 4)
Already in the beginning of the book Ponyboy gets jumped by Socs as he walks
home which is a clear act of physical violence. Such behavior is the result of
the influence that the thinking of the upper-class stereotypical society has on
the Socs. Their assumption is that if you see people with greasy long hair and cheap
clothes, you jump them. But why do the Socs jump the Greasers in the first
place? Why do they have the feeling that it’s okay to beat them up without any
specific reasons? That’s because the stereotyping triggers the legitimization
of violence towards the stereotyped group which is in this case are the
Greasers. With the number of violent acts in this book we can see that violence
is inevitable. Both rival gangs must prove their strength and power by simply
fighting each other which we can clearly see at the rumble. Finally, violence
is a big issue in “The Outsiders” and is clearly a result of stereotyping.

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Secondly, inferiority complex is also
a repercussion of stereotyping. Inferiority complex is when someone feels that
they are of less worth or importance than other people. In this book, the
Greasers feel less valued than the rest of the Society. The stereotyping limits
the expectations that the Greasers have of their lives. For example, not going
to college and not receiving a full education. If the Greasers also get trapped
into this thinking, they unconsciously let the stereotypical people tell them
what to do and what not to do. The Greasers are somehow convinced that such is
the life for them. They don’t expect anything better. You may see that in this
paraphrase: “Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old
souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while.”
(Hinton 4) Greasers may actually do these things but partly because everybody
else around them expects them to. The more people judge you with prejudices the
more you become like that. Most of the Greasers drop out of high school and
don’t go to college, because they believe they’re not supposed to have a great
education based on the prejudices which govern them. The Greasers lose their
sense of belonging in society and accept their inferior status. This proves how
stereotyping can result in inferiority complex for the Greasers.

Finally, another consequence of
stereotyping in this book is how this can have an impact on relationships. A good
example is Darell Curtis, also called Darry. Behind this strong, tuff-looking
and fearless man there is someone who just wants to have a normal life, who
wants to be able to finish high school and eventually go to college, but he had
to drop out to take care of his family after his parents died. He is smart and
athletic which earned him the scholarship for a great college, but he had to
give all that up. Because of the strong stereotypes associated with not being
able to complete education, Darry unwillingly fell into the category of Greasers
when he could actually have belonged to the Socs. This also led to the breakup
of Paul and Darry’s friendship. They were good friends and used to go to school
together but since Paul was and still is a Soc, their friendship fell apart. At
the rumble, Ponyboy notices the hatred and jealousy in Darry’s look towards his
former friend, Paul. Paul looks down on Darry as he is representing the Greasers
which in Ponyboy’s observations, Darry himself is ashamed of. This shows how stereotyping
can have negative effect on relationships and degrade someone’s worth in society.

In
conclusion, we can see that stereotyping can lead to violence, cause inferiority
complex in the people who are stereotyped and
have a negative impact on relationships. All this can cause imbalance in
society. But if people would treat others without any preconceived notions the
society would become much more balanced and would not turn people against each
other.

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