Movie Analysis: The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a film that was directed by Thomas Howell in 1983. The motion picture has an important psychological aspect of the relationship between the two groups as well as among the individuals. The film development revolves around the southerners who are rich known as the Socials and the northerners who are poor and are called the Greasers. The movie depicts psychological propositions in a social environment. The film presents a case study to examine psychological components like ego identity, the culture of poverty, labeling, social learning, and identity crisis between the groups and at an individual level.

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To begin with, people identify themselves within their social status. For instance, Valance is from the South and even when befriending the young men from the North, the struggle to maintain the social status remains. Children in the North have learned to respect people from the South, and when the fight at the fountain erupts, Johnny and Ponyboy recoils to their social identity. Accepting defeat, Johnny rescues his brother, and they hide for their safety (Howell et al., 2017). The defeat is not because the Greasers could not have won the war, but because of their inferior perverted self-identity. It is ironical that on their way home, they rescue children from a burning church. The boys have been raised in constrains until they have learned how to restrain themselves. Instead of running home to find help, their instincts and rationality choose to risk their lives in an attempt to save the children. Given the apprehension they had from the village, the behavior of saving others is learned and reinforced.

Individuals go through straining and often victims of social labeling. For example, when the after the fight when the boys get home, the Greasers declare war against the social. The gap between the Greasers and the Socials is widened. An interaction between boys from the two groups is labeled as an interaction between the two groups. Furthermore, they find it difficult to connect freely because the social interaction is strenuous. The friendship between these two groups is labeled ironic and unusual given their differences. The concept of the culture of poverty comes out clearly. It has been labeled in this society that if a Greaser has a knife, they are associated with crime and violence. The labeling is confirmed and enhanced, when Johnny uses the knife that he had to stab the young man who was beating up his brother. At the same time, the society has labeled that the Socials do not have weapons, since they do not involve themselves in crime and robbery.

In the film, identity is paramount, and it was best if felt unchanged. Alternations of identity bring war between the Socials and the Greasers. The Socials declare war because they are angry that the Greasers have killed their son which they perceive as being undermined (Howell et al.). They are also letting out their anger the interaction between them and the low-class Greasers. Relationships like the ones above disturb the identity of a group. As such, the extent to which a person’s rational choice can be respected is limited. Interactions with the group’s “enemy” is prohibited and group identity appraised more than individual identity.

In conclusion, the character in the film implicates their social group. Their behaviors are shaped by their social environment and experience. In the film, one only belongs to their social group and gaining and preserving that identity is important. Individuals give up their will for independent thinking and character to belong to a group.


Work Cited

Howell, Thomas, et al. “The Outsiders.” You Tube, 3. Dec. 2016, Accessed 29 Mar. 2017.