Gal Smiley read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton a couple of weeks ago – maybe a little old for her but she’s a fussy reader, only caring for things that a) aren’t fantasy or sci-fi or mystery, b) don’t involve teens fighting to the death, and c) have tons of action, and Big Action right on the first page. It’s a challenge.
Luckily The Outsiders passed the test (I’m sure I would have been crushed if not) and so of course, I immediately ordered the BluRay DVD online for us to watch together. We watched it last night with Captain Jelly Belly, and Gal Smiley loved it.
Captain Jelly Belly, however, was really confused. His comment: “But at the end, nothing is resolved. Everyone is still on their side of town and they still hate each other and the boys are still poor and it’s all the same.”
I tried to explain that there is hope, because Ponyboy is different and has learned something and his skills at school and support from his brothers means he might get out someday. But “someday” wasn’t enough – the Captain wanted CONCLUSION, he wanted ANSWERS.
It’s funny, I guess he has only really watched action films and comedy films that come to a nice tidy ending so far, and he just did not understand the point of telling a story that was open-ended. He didn’t like the fact that the ending was, for the most part, sad. It was kind of like when I read Bridge to Terabithia to Gal Smiley and the main girl dies at the end, and Gal Smiley was all, “JESUS MOM, what’d you read me this stupid book for?” I think The Outsiders was Captain Jelly Belly’s moment like that – an introduction to the idea that not all stories are tied up in a happy little bow at the end.
And he did not like that.
So we talked about how stories like this are still worth telling because they share an experience, and let us see a different kind of life. They give us a window to other worlds and help us think about our values and what it means to live in society. And maybe it will colour our views and decisions in the future, to think about other points of view, and it will bring about change. Slowly, eventually.
Not fast enough for the Captain, I’m afraid – but hopefully he’ll learn.