A Trip Down Memory Lane – Defined By External Persona .. part 1

This blog is slightly different to the one I had expected to write following on from last week. I was planning on writing about how we are often defined by that title or label or that place we come from – that external persona we use to interact with the world … and I guess I still am but from a different perspective altogether.

You see this week I have become reconnected with some familiar ‘ friends’ … characters that were once a big part of my life and whom I turned to when life felt difficult… I was always a reader you see. Books were my escape and I have many memories of simply being by myself lost in a world between two covers. In recent years due to study and I guess ‘life’ I had stepped away from that person who was always head in a book – or least a book which was read for no other reason than to discover and enjoy – most reading was academic as I studied across what seemed a lifetime of years.

But this week I opened up a world long forgotten … The Outsiders by SE Hinton was discovered by a teenage Ali and I was immediately absorbed into the life of Pony Boy Curtis who along with his brothers and their gang of friends lived in 1950’s America – they were greasers and the book follows events in Pony Boy’s life which lead to a change in how he sees the world… it is filled with drama and real teenage angst, there were tears I remember and disbelieve that Hinton could deal such tragic blows to my beloved characters .. the original characters I built up in my head were later replaced when a film was made . A teenage girl’s dream from the 80’s with every member of the then ‘Brat Pack’ in residence – Patrick Swayze as the older brother, Rob Lowe at his most beautiful and Matt Dillon as the dangerous and lovable rogue Dallas … but of course it was Pony Boy and Johnny played by C Thomas Howell and Ralph Macchio who you really were following – right to the bitter, heart wrenching end.

I must have loved this book a lot as I managed to give a very persuasive argument as to how it should be my O level book review – an examination of American culture… so much more interesting than the Mill on The Floss which I was first offered!

But I digress as always… you see it totally brings to life the concept of being defined by our outer world and the persona that we need to create in order to survive. As greasers – from a poorer side of town the tow younger boys Johnny and Pony Boy needed to create a persona that they were street smart and able to fight – that they were scared of nothing this meant they didn’t mix with other people from other parts – The Soc’s were richer and whilst it appeared they had it better the story doesn’t end well for anyone … all of them were victims in some of way of the environment they were in and the creation of the roles that made it almost impossible for them to simply live together and be the people they were.

Pony Boy felt he could never really be his true self – someone who loved reading Gone With Wind and loved poetry, who was clever and really deserved to go onto higher education … he was defined by his circumstances and he lived in many ways as the rest of them did in an external persona developed in order to simply survive.

And so it happens – we become so engrained in needing to hold onto our external persona we lose sight of who we truly are… or we feel we cannot allow that person to show through. Creating feelings of conflict and frustration in our world.

Next week I will get back on track and explain this further … but for now I am enjoying simply re discovering this story , the memories of my own teenage years it brings back … and really how much I thought Matt Dillon as Dallas was the most wonderful being on the planet … after Rob Lowe of course 😊

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