How can two people whose lives are so different have so much in common? How
can a young man growing up with everything he could possibly want have anything in
common with someone who has known only poverty and hardship his entire life? It
seems impossible. However, in S. E. Hinton’s novel The Outsiders, there are two such
characters who, despite having enormous differences in their lives, also have significant
similarities. These characters are Dally Winston and Bob Sheldon.
Dally Winston and Bob Sheldon have two very significant similarities. For
example, one way that Dally and Bob are the same is that they both enjoy fighting. Dally
is a tough greaser who does not waste any time creating a problem if he has the
opportunity. Dally frequently looks for problems with the police and other people. In
fact, even his friends try hard to stay on his good side. Ponyboy says of Dallas, “One
time, in a dime store, a guy told him to move over at the candy counter. Dally had turned
around and belted him so hard it knocked a tooth loose. A complete stranger, too” (24).
Dallas has a short fuse, and he is not afraid to tangle with anyone. He often does his best
to find ways to break laws, and Dally himself says, “‘Don’t you know a rumble ain’t a
rumble unless I’m in it’” (144)? Clearly, Dallas enjoys trouble. Likewise, Bob, a
member of the Socs, is another person who enjoys fights, usually with greasers. Bob and
his friends beat Johnny nearly to death in the vacant lot just because Johnny is a greaser.
His rings cut up Johnny’s face pretty badly, leaving a scar Johnny will carry for the rest
of his life. Pony says of Bob, “I knew he liked to pick fights, [and] had the usual Soc
belief that living on the West Side made you Mr. Super-Tuff” (162). Bob also comes
after Pony and Johnny when he believes they were trying to pick-up his girlfriend at the
drive-in, and this confrontation ends up costing him his life. Another way that Dallas and
Bob are similar is they both have parents who do not give them the attention they need.
For example, Dally was arrested at the age of ten while in a gang in New York. If his
parents gave him the attention he required, he would not be running with a gang at such a
young age, and he would not have gone to jail. Dally never mentions his mother, and he
only mentions his father once to say, “‘Shoot, my old man don’t give a hang whether I’m
in jail or dead in a car wreck or drunk in the gutter’” (88). Dally makes it very clear that
his parents are not involved in his life. Similarly, Bob Sheldon has parents who,
although they care about him, do not pay him the kind of attention he needs. Bob is a
wild boy who often gets drunk, and when he does, his parents look the other way. They
do not punish him, and let him get away with his misbehavior. His friend Randy states:
“‘He kept trying to make someone say ‘No’ and they never did. They never did. That
was what he wanted....