Friendships and relationships in our lives are very important to us and they mold us into who we are. In The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, the role of the gang is like a surrogate family. The novel is centered on these relationships.
Gangs are like families in the sense that they are a unit of security. The greasers gang formed due to various reasons, the main being the absense of many family members both physically and emotionally. Soda, Darry and Ponyboy Curtis lost their parents at a young age from a tragic car accident. The three brothers turned to friends for unconditional love and support that they didn’t have at home. Darry had no choice but to step up and be the father figure.
Johnny didn’t have parents who cared emotionally enough about him and therefore, depended on the gang to love him and help him through life. It is clear in Johnny’s relationship with Dally and Ponyboy that they fill the void that is missing. Johnny was looking to escape his negative home life and depended on Dally for advice.
Throughout the novel, we see the theme of loyalty. The gang is loyal to each other and always has each others backs. Many fights happen between the Greasers and the Socs. Each member of the Greasers protects one another, the same way a family protects each other.
When Ponyboy was sick, Two Bit took care of him while Darry and Soda were at work. This is another important point of how gangs become famiy and shows their loyalty.
In the Outsiders, the gang was a brotherhood, a bond so strong that it was just like family. It is a support system. When kids do not have positive role models and proper discipline, they look to others to meet their needs. Gangs give each member their own identity and feeling of belonging.
As each character grows, we see them develop as individuals. Through their strengths and weaknesses they each develop their own identity and character that makes them who they are. In the end, Ponyboy realized that he needed to grow up and be a more responsible individual.