Hi, everyone! In our S.E. Hinton unit for Grade 7, we already have the opportunity to touch base upon the work of Robert Frost. I'm planning to do the activity below, just to get the kids in the mindset of the analytical end of this project. If you have any questions, let me know! -- LM

Creating Inferences:
“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Are you aware that you are already a master at inference?

Consider this scenario: Your best friend comes to school with red, teary eyes and refuses to look at anyone. He or she is usually able to talk to you about anything, so you ask what is wrong. He or she simply says, “Nothing! Leave me alone!” and walks away.
Is there something wrong with this friend?

If you said yes, it is because you have had experience inferring. Anytime that you are able to see past what is simply stated in words, and draw conclusions based upon the way something appears, feels and seems, you are inferring.

An inference is a logical conclusion that can be made based upon the facts of a situation. In literature, good readers will use inference to understand more of the story than what is simply said in words.

For example, Johnny Cade never tells us that Bob Sheldon was the Soc who jumped him. So how did we know?

Clue #1:
Johnny had bruises from the rings worn by the Soc who beat him (page 33).

Clue #2:
Four Socs in a blue Mustang beat Johnny up (page 33).

Clue #3:
Johnny became a “nervous wreck” when he saw the blue Mustang drive by (page 41).

Clue #4:
Cherry says it is Bob and Randy driving the blue Mustang (page 41).

Clue #5:
Johnny stared at Bob’s hand, which was covered with rings (page 44).

In Chapter 3, Ponyboy puts these clues together for us, and infers that Bob must have been the Soc who beat up Johnny. However, many of you were able to piece together those clues and arrive at the same conclusion before Ponyboy did it for us…You were able to infer!

When reading poetry, the author seldom comes right out and gives us a direct message. We must infer what is being said in order to understand the meaning behind a poem. Let’s look at Robert Frost’s poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” as quoted by Ponyboy in Chapter 5 of The Outsiders (page 77).

The author says…
My prior knowledge
(schema) says…
I can infer that this
line means…

Nature’s first green is gold,

- Leaves are green
- Leaves in early spring are
- Gold is valuable
The earliest signs of spring,
and the earliest parts of life,
are valuable.

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.

Based upon this chart, what lesson is Robert Frost trying to teach through this poem?