Johnny’s Act Self Defense
Johnny should not be charged with anything because of his history with the Socs and his reasonable actions that prove that he was acting in self defense. In The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, Bob and four other Socs ran into Johnny and Ponyboy at the water fountain. Bob threatened the two greasers and then commanded David, another Soc, to forcefully dunk Ponyboy’s head into the water. Johnny then stabbed Bob and the other Socs ran away in trepidation. When Ponyboy wakes up after from a state of unconsciousness, he found Johnny distraught from killing Bob. A while before, Johnny had been violently beaten by Bob and a handful of other Socs. The reason for this being no other than just how Johnny is a greaser.
A while ago, Johnny had been hurt brutally by a few Socs. When Bob ran into Johnny and Ponyboy at the fountain, Johnny saw the moonlight glinting off of Bob’s rings and recalled that “… one of [the Socs who had beat him] had a lot of rings on his hand …” (33). Johnny then realizes that Bob was one of the people that hurt him viciously that afternoon four months ago due to being cut up by them that night ago. Johnny would have believed that this time, at the fountain, the Socs would hurt him even worse and possibly kill him. This is a reasonable argument to why Johnny reacted to imminent threats and killed Bob in an act of self defense. Johnny knew that something bad would happen to him and Ponyboy so he acted in self defense and killed Bob.
The Socs often threatened the greasers by claiming that they would hurt them. Johnny had sensed serious danger when the Socs had come to the fountain. The Socs were looking out for Ponyboy and possibly other greasers. Earlier in the day, the Socs had threatened to kill Ponyboy, saying “How’d you like that haircut to begin just below the chin?” (6). A haircut below the chin was implying that they wanted to kill Ponyboy by slitting his throat. The Socs could have been looking for Ponyboy to finish what they started. Due to the threats that the Socs had tantalized Ponyboy with, Johnny killed Bob, afraid that the Socs would kill them.
The Socs had not only outnumbered the greasers but yet also carried knives. After Ponyboy wakes up from passing out, Johnny said that he “‘… had to [kill Bob]. They were drowning you, Ponyboy. They might have killed you. And they had a blade … they were gonna beat me up …. ‘ ‘Like…’ I swallowed ‘like they did before?'” (57). Johnny states that he had no other choice. Earlier, he had witnessed the Socs threatening Ponyboy and had also been in a situation where the Socs could have killed them. The Socs also had knives, so Johnny did not know what to expect. The Socs could have taken action to hurt and kill the two greasers right then and there. Johnny was faced with the sole option of killing Bob in order to save himself and Ponyboy.
When Johnny had been battered by the group of Socs, they had done so for no legitimate reason. When the Socs were at the water fountain, they said “next time you want a broad, pick up your own kind” (48). This was said because Johnny and Ponyboy had talked to Bob and Randy’s girlfriends, and Bob and Randy did not like that. This might be a reason why Bob and Randy might have wanted to hurt Ponyboy and Johnny really badly. This time, the Socs had a deeper reason to want to hurt someone else and they might’ve hurt the two greasers with more force, possibly killing them. Stuck in the position he was in, Johnny had no other choice but to kill Bob.
After getting hurt by the Socs, ” Johnny, who was the most law-abiding of us, now carried in his back pocket a 6 inch switchblade. He’d use it, too, if he ever got jumped on again. He would kill the next person who jumped him” (31). This quote defends against the conviction of second degree murder because Johnny had thought about possibly killing someone if they ever tried to beat him up again. However, Johnny did not commit first or second degree murder since the Socs might have beat him up even worse, which would possibly kill Johnny. The first time they beat up Johnny, they beat him up for no legitimate reason. This time, they had been angry that Johnny, Ponyboy and the other greasers had talked to their girlfriends. Their anger towards the two would cause them to be even more brutal in hurting them.
Johnny also did not have malicious afterthoughts after or after killing Bob. His attitude after the event was one where he was perplexed yet also very scared and confused. He definitely did not any evil intent, which rules out murder. After the Socs had run into Johnny and Ponyboy, Bob had said “Give the kid a bath, David” (49). This quote shows that Johnny committed manslaughter and murder because it was David who was the one that was drowning Ponyboy, not Bob, and that he should have killed David in order for his action to be one of self-defense. This piece of evidence can be proven wrong because Johnny had no other choice. After Ponyboy almost died, the Socs might have made a move on Johnny and killed him as well. Due to his history with Socs, Johnny would most definitely be scared of what the Socs might do to him, so he had to make a move to hurt someone. Johnny was also held back by Socs, making his movement limited. The restriction in movement definitely played a huge factor in how hard he could have hurt someone.
In conclusion, Johnny definitely did not commit manslaughter or murder because of the evidence provided and should be declared innocent. Johnny had valid reasons behind why he needed to kill Bob. The Socs had knives that they could use to hurt the two greasers, the history of nearly beating Johnny to death and the mindset to hurt greasers. Johnny was stuck in this situation where he knew that the Socs could kill him and Ponyboy. Johnny had no other choice but to hurt Bob or another Soc. It is clearly shown that Johnny should not be charged with manslaughter or murder, he had only hurt Bob as an act of self defense