The meaning of the word gold can be very different depending on the
situation in which it is used. The Webster's Dictionary defines gold as, "
1. A malleable, ductile, yellow metallic element that occurs chiefly free
or in few other minerals. It's used especially in jewelry, coins, and as a
decoration. 2. A gold piece such as money. 3. Something that is gold or
dark yellow in color. 4. Something or someone that is valued as the highest
of it's kind. ( A heart of gold. )"
The word "gold" was used many times in The Outsiders and served many
different meanings throughout the novel. In one case, it was used to
describe things that were gold in color. For example, gold was the word
that helped to paint a picture of the beautiful sunrise that Ponyboy and
Johnny saw behind a hill. In chapter 5, page 77, the word gold was used
more than once to describe the sky as the sun rose. As Ponyboy said, "The
sky was lighter in the east and the horizon was a thin gold 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".
Johnny had said how he wished the sky would never change and caused
Ponyboy to remember a poem called Nothing Gold Can Stay. It goes,
"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." Ponyboy thought
that the poem tied in with what Johnny had said about the sunrise but
didn't really know how.
Gold also referred to how Johnny interpreted the poem that Ponyboy
told him. He said that the poem was like a metaphor of life. It starts
out golden, but then eventually has to end. Gold was used to describe
Ponyboy's importance to Johnny and how Johnny felt about him. When Johnny
was in the hospital, he told Ponyboy about his thoughts on the poem Ponyboy
had shared with him. Johnny told Ponyboy to " stay gold". He knew that
Ponyboy was a good person and he didn't want that to change after he died.
The word gold helped to connect different parts of the story and played an
important role throughout.