Tag Archives: The Outsiders

Stay Gold

30 Apr

IMG_1797For Christmas 2013, one of my fellow writer friends, the amazing Katherine, got me a present that I’ve cherished ever since. She ordered bracelets for me and my other two friends that had a quote on them that was important to us. Mine says, “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.” I wear it every day to remind myself that intentions matter. The fact that it’s very seldom I’m actually up to no good is irrelevant. It makes me think of the Weasley twins and that’s a great feeling during a slow work day.

I’m a terrible friend and missed Katherine’s birthday. And my friend Sonia’s birthday. I’m going to make the excuse that both are very close to mine, but that’s a bad excuse because really, I should remember them better because of that. But I started thinking about what Katherine had given me and what I could give her and I ended up coming up with something I really wanted for myself.

IMG_1798I looked up stamped aluminum jewelry, the same style Katherine had given me, and found a few vendors on Etsy. I ended up messaging Stephanie Leigh about ordering seven of a custom message and she was great working with me. I think they came out really well.

I decided to buy these for the six girls in my life that mean the most to me. And I kept one for myself, thus the seven. (Yes, someone already commented on the Lord of the Rings comparison to the rings for the dwarfs. I think we’re better looking than dwarfs, but that’s just me.) So this gift was kind of for me, and a bit for some missed birthdays and some just because.

My girlfriends are awesome for not laughing at me because of the letter I included with the package. I’ve copied my ‘book report’ of a letter below to share with you all.

I’m going to try to explain what the quote means to me. This is likely to sound like a high school English essay with the number of quotes I’m going to throw in, but stick with me. I promise it has a point. The quote is from my favorite book of all time, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Main character’s Pony and Johnny are staying out in the country in this scene (page 85 of my copy):

The dawn was coming then. All the lower valley was covered with mist, and sometimes little pieces of it broke off and floated away in small clouds. The sky was lighter in the east, and the horizon was a thin golden line. The clouds changed from gray to pink, and the mist was touched with gold. There was a silent moment when everything held its breath, and then the sun rose. It was beautiful.

“Golly” –Johnny’s voice beside me made me jump—“that sure was pretty.”

“Yeah.” I signed, wishing I had some paint to do a picture while the sight was still fresh in my mind.

“The mist was what was pretty,” Johnny said. “All gold and silver.”

“Uhmmmm,” I said, trying to blow a smoke ring.

“Too bad it couldn’t stay like that all the time.”

“Nothing gold can stay.” I was remember a poem I’d read once.

“What?”

“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

Johnny was staring at me. “Where’d you lean that? That was what I meant.”

“Robert Frost wrote it. He meant more to it than I’m gettin’, though.” I was trying to find the meaning the poet had in mind, but it eluded me. “I always remembered it because I never quite got what he meant by it.”

The poem is called Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. The boys begin talking about other topics, but Johnny comes back to the poem later. On page 157, he says to Pony, “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” Thus the quote on your rings. Later, he explains to Pony what he meant. From page 186:

I’ve been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you’re gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid, everything’s new, dawn. It’s just when you get used to everything that it’s day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That’s gold. Keep that way, it’s a good way to be.

I love how Johnny describes this; it’s exactly what I want to stay. We’ve been friends a long time and seen things change and we might be coming into the ‘day’ of our lives, but we still have some gold left in us. There are things in our lives that keep us young and we have to be reminded of them sometimes. You are a part of what keeps me gold. Having close friends that make me happy and with whom I can talk to about the ups and downs of the day keep my spirit young. I wanted this ring to remind me of that and I wanted to share it with you so that you would never forget it either. 

I hope you can all see why this quote means so much to me. I’ve worn my ring almost daily since I got it to remind me to cherish what makes me happy. I hope you all can do that, too.

Stay gold.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton (4/5)

2 Jan

My final book of the 2013 Reading Challenge successfully complete! I saw that S.E. Hinton’s short stories had been put together in a collection and added it to my list. I was extatic when I found a copy in a resale shop down the street and grabbed it. What a wonderful find.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton

Most people recognize S.E. Hinton’s name from The Outsiders but haven’t read her other books. With my fangirl personality, I read all of her YA novels when I was in high school and am proud to own three of them. I think she does a wonderful job of portraying the disadvantaged and explaining that we’re all following our lot in life and some were dealt a bad hand. There’s only so much we can do with what we have.

These short stories follow cousins Terry and Mike whose fathers pass away when they are young. Both boys grow up without a strong male role model and mothers weakened by loss. They’ve turned to some illegal activities to make ends meat when Terry is arrested, leaving Mike alone to fight his way through the myriad of relationships left behind.

I liked that this story jumped forward and backward in time while revealing how Mike dealt with Terry’s absence. The story of what happened to land Terry in jail comes later in the book and reveals why Mike holds so much guilt in his heart. Terry is a very minor character in the story’s action, but his presence and memory drive all of Mike’s motivations.

Like many of Hinton’s books, this one deals with those who are just getting by, the edge of society and those who don’t have a better future to look forward to. When Terry and Mike decided to get involved in illegal activities, they don’t see another option for themselves. It’s the only way they can see for the world to be just and give them the money they work so hard to earn. Mike’s ideas that the universe will pay him back for what he’s done continue well after Terry’s in jail. He tells himself that he cannot be happy in a relationship and drives away a woman who loves him. When misfortune befalls him and he’s injured at work, he sees it as punishment for how he’s acted before. When Terry returns, Mike finally realizes that he didn’t need to punish himself and that Terry’s not all the way gone. He’s finally able to respect himself a little more and move on with his life.

The copy I read was half interviews with Hinton and I loved reading these. She talked frequently about her relationships with the actors from The Outsiders movie and what it was like to be a part of the film making process. Her answers were always terse, much like her prose which always gets right to the point. It felt to me like it made her prose even more genuine because it felt like she had become her own characters, sharing in their speaking mannerisms.

What I like about Hinton is that she shows that criminals are not always bad people. Her characters frequently steal, sell drugs, and carry guns but that doesn’t define who they are. She shows us that we can sympathize with criminals once we know their motivations. One of the themes in my novel is that there is no black and white, only shades of grey and I think that Hinton likes to show this in her stories as well. Maybe I should count her among my influences.

Writer’s Takeaway: I have addressed before that I’m interested in what makes a work a collection of short stores instead of a novel. Many times it’s the same characters, which is the case in this collection as well. I think the even more prominent connection is the theme of redemption. Terry is redeemed when he emerges from jail much the same person as when he left. Tim is redeemed when he can prove to himself that he can love. He loves Mike and his aunt and when he knows that, he can love others as well. It’s a pity it takes so long for him to figure this out.

Overall, I prefer her novels, but this was a great quick read. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, Reader, write on.