Can He “Stay Gold” or is He Gone? Changes are subtle, but when observed closely, they can be spotted easily. It is just as if an ant is under a microscope, so that people can see a scar on one of its legs. That is the case with the characters in the book, The Outsiders, by S. E Hinton. Although there are many dynamic people shown in the book, with Ponyboy being the easiest one to see, soft-spoken Johnny Cade is one-of-a-kind, if examined closely. Johnny’s thinking changes dramatically as he faces many challenges in his life.
Johnny is a timid and nervous 16 year old that changes into a strong-willed man, able to think and act as an individual, which shows that he is a dynamic character. First, Johnny appreciates life more than what he used to be. After Johnny, Ponyboy, and Two-Bit watch the movie, the two Socs girls abandon them. Then, Johnny starts to feel the pain when one is separated by their social status, and tells Ponyboy that “[He] can’t take much more. [He’ll] kill [himself] or something” (47 Hinton). He implies that his greasers’ life isn’t as good as Socs, and feels life is not more living for.
He longs to find a place with “plain ordinary people” (48). But Johnny’s beliefs towards this completely changes at the end. When he was in the hospital, he claims that sixteen years is not enough, and believes that he still has “so much stuff [he hasn’t] done yet and so many things [he hasn’t] seen” (120). Johnny realizes, when staring death right in the face, that he hasn’t seen or done much, for he has only experienced 16 years of life, and he wants to see more. For example, he admits that he has only been out of the eighborhood once, the time where they fled to Windrixville and hid in the church. The changes Johnny has for his attitudes towards life has switched to opposite sides, from suicide to wishing for longevity. Next, Johnny changes in thinking when he is courageous and stands up for what is the truth, not even thinking for the consequences that may happen to himself. Originally, Johnny was a very quiet person, who always seemed suspicious. Then, Johnny tells Dally to stop messing with Cherry when Dally tried to put his arm around her. This is very strange because Johnny is ery timid, and “Johnny [worships] the ground Dallas [walks] on, and [Ponyboy] never heard Johnny talk back to anyone, much less his hero” (25). This is the first time Johnny has ever talked back to anyone, and Johnny did it to his hero, Dally. Although he was nervous when he said it, Johnny is not afraid to stand up for others, even it meant going against your hero’s wishes. Another incident is in the park, where he and Ponyboy are jumped by the Socs. Johnny takes out his switchblade not to threaten the Socs, but actually to kill their leader, Bob.
This is a real turning point for Johnny in the book because Johnny never killed anything, but he intentionally took out a person’s life! Additionally, it is not Johnny that goes sick, but it is Ponyboy. One would think that Johnny would get sick because he is very nervous and he has never killed anyone, especially since this time was an intentional murder. Johnny just becomes pale and scared. But Ponyboy, the spectator, gets sick, and he “leaned back and closed [his] eyes so [he] wouldn’t see Bob lying there” (57).
Johnny actually helps Ponyboy get out of his sickness, when it should have been Ponyboy being tough, and Johnny being weak. Additionally, Johnny finds a way to get both of them out of the trouble. Johnny could have been easily arrested, but thinking unselfishly, he went to rescue Ponyboy instead of running away himself. In conclusion, Johnny becomes a dynamic character when challenges in his life shape his character when he changes from a fearful teenager to an independent man. Johnny’s thinking shifts in the whole book, proving his changes.
In a way, Johnny relates to Melanie in Margaret Mitchell’s epic, Gone with the Wind. Both characters seemed weak to start the novel, but both become very strong and tough in the end. Since Hinton did mention about the book Gone with the Wind in her own novel, Hinton definitely is trying to portray Melanie in Gone with the Wind as Johnny in her own book, The Outsiders. As said before, many people are considered dynamic characters, but Johnny is very special because his changes are direct opposites, and his changes are very interesting to observe.