Monday, October 5, 2015

Literary Names #6: The Outsiders

For this week's Literary Names installment, I'll be focusing on one of my favorite books from middle and high school - S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders!

This groundbreaking book published in 1967 focused on the lives of teenagers from the "wrong side of the tracks", and was in fact written by a teenager. The book was banned in some schools for references to violence, drugs and sex, but is taught in many schools today for its more realistic depiction of teenage friendships, adolescence, and grief.

The characters in Ponyboy's gang have cool names all their own, so I'll be updating them for the "modern greaser".

Ponyboy Michael Curtis..... Destry Quiller
Obviously the first name had to reference horses, not only because of Ponyboy, but also because of a character he references - Pip from Great Expectations (Pip is short for Phillip, "lover of horses"). Destry means "war horse", and I liked a Western-sounding name for an Oklahoma boy. Quiller is a name I found while researching the name meaning "writer", and though it's loud, I thought it worked for Ponyboy's character.

Sodapop Patrick Curtis..... Joah Naaman
Sodapop is a soft but sweet character, playing mediator to Darry and Ponyboy and generally being the kind center of the group. Joah means "brother of God" in Hebrew, and I chose a Hebrew middle name to match the sound - Naaman, meaning "sweet herbs". Naaman's meaning also goes along with sticky-sweet Sodapop.

Johnny Cade..... Owen Riley
Being that I tend towards more unusual names, I'm surprised that I was drawn to the top 200 for Johnny's new moniker. But for a strong, young man, I suppose I wanted a strong, not uncommon name. Owen is a softer variation of John, and I stuck with Celtic origins to find Riley - "courageous". Johnny shows a lot of courage despite his fear in The Outsiders, and I think this new name matches his personality.

Dallas "Dally" Winston..... Akiva Jabez
Dally was always my favorite character in The Outsiders for his sharpness and unquestioning loyalty to his friends. When picking his name, I chose something visually striking - K, V, J and Z are some of the least used letters in the English language. Akiva means "to protect", while Jabez means "borne in pain" - a reference to Dally's inner demons. This is probably my favorite of the bunch!

Darrel "Darry" Shaynne Curtis Jr...... Axel Twain
I have to say, Darrel Shaynne is too light in sound and meaning to really characterize Darry's character - he's constantly toeing the line between father and brother to Sodapop and Ponyboy. The "Jr" part fits, so I'm choosing a name with a fatherly meaning - Axel, from Absalom, "father of peace". Twain offers another literary reference, with the meaning "divided in two". The sounds of Darrel Shaynne and Axel Twain are also similar.

Keith "Two-Bit" Mathews..... Isaac Theophilus
For the comedian of the group, I chose a first name meaning "laughter" - Isaac. I also wanted to underline his role as a friend in the group, though arguably on the outside of the inner brotherhood - Theophilus, meaning "friend of God". Theophilus is also unusual and a little silly, which works for Two-Bit's character.

Steve Randle..... Soren Randolph
My least favorite member of the group, but being that he's also integral to the plot, I couldn't leave him out. His angry attitude prompted the first name Soren, meaning "stern". Last name Randle sounded like Randall to me, which means "shield" - fitting for a teenager who's always putting on a brave face to cover up inner problems. Randolph is a variation with a great sound.

Sherri "Cherry" Valance..... Rowan Medea
I couldn't let this be an all-male name list, so I included another character I'm fond of - Soc teen Cherry. I decided to stick with a "red" meaning, and picked Rowan. It's also got a nice open sound for her friendly personality. Medea translates to "middle", since she crosses between groups.

What do you think? Let me know how'd you change things up in the comments!

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