The Outsiders

S.E. Hinton. The Outsiders.

outsiders.JPGThe Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, is written as a memory of the main character, Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy narrates the novel as if writing it down for the first time, detailing facts from the most significant part of his life. Although the book centers around Ponyboy, S.E. Hinton manages to add depth and life to each of her principle characters. S.E. Hinton paved the way for young adult literature with this novel, The Outsiders. Her novel appeals to both male and female, young and old readers while using poetic and sophisticated content and language. When the reader first meets Ponyboy, he is exiting a movie theater alone at night. Unfortunately, Ponyboy does not live so easy a life as you may first think. In reality, he, with his two brothers Darry and Sodapop, was born into a gang named the Greasers, whose fatal enemies are the Socs (short for Socials), who come from a privileged class and are led by Randy.

Shortly into the novel, Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny Cade meet up with some Socs at a park. The tense scene ends with Johnny using a switchblade to stab and kill a Soc, Bob, in order to save Ponyboy's life. Shaken and afraid, the two boys leave the city to camp out in an abandoned church. The living at the church forces the two boys to unite and get to know each other even more. Ponyboy shares his love of literature with Johnny by introducing him to Gone with the Wind and "Nothing Gold Can Stay." The readers get a true glimpse into the boys' friendship when the two witness a sunrise together. This is when Ponyboy first recites "Nothing Gold Can Stay," using it to describe his reaction to the sunrise. Johnny agrees, saying:

"You're gold when you're a kid, like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn."

Johnny's insight taps into another major theme of the book: loss of innocence. Whether a Soc or a greaser, everyone in the gangs are affected by the violence around them. Johnny laments this fact, especially because his childhood was so troubled.

As the novel continues to unfold, we see Ponyboy coming to realize how destructive and futile the war between the Socs and the Greasers is. He tells Cherri, a Soc girl:

"It’s okay… We aren’t in the same class. Just don’t forget that some of us watch the sunset too."

Ponyboy's insight here not only shows his acceptance of the Socs as people going through similar trials as he, just in a different way. The way this quote relates Ponyboy's relationship with Cherri with his relationship with Johnny displays even further the connection he feels with members of his opposing gang. Randy shows an opposing view when he tells Ponyboy that:

"Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs. Sometimes I think it’s the ones in the middle that are really the lucky stiffs."

Randy's words suggest his frustration with the situation between Greasers and the Socs, but he's still perpetuating the stereotypes which the members of the gangs grew up with.

S.E. Hinton crafts a beautiful and engaging piece with The Outsiders. It entertains and enriches its readers with its social themes, fast-paced plot, and developed characters.

About S.E. Hinton

Susan E. Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began her writing career during her junior year of high school--she was actually inspired to write The Outsiders based on two cliques in her school: the Greasers and the Socs. The book was published in 1967, and it became the 2nd best selling young adult novel in history.

She attended the University of Tulsa and received her degree three years after the publication of The Outsiders, Eighteen years later, she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for depicting the emotional lives of teenagers as true to life as possible in her texts.

Common themes within her novels are juvenile delinquency, teenage rebellion, high school conflicts, and other issues that are still at the center of teenage problems today, making her works so classic,

Other Works by S.E. Hinton:
external image n177427.jpgTex
external image 412ZHSE58HL.jpgRumble Fish

external image 0330437607.02.LZZZZZZZ.jpgHawkes Harbor
external image 31HMWGEMAGL.jpgThat Was Then, This is Now

Recommendations for Teachers
This book covers so many different aspects of adolescent life: friendship, loyalty, love, the tension between classes, conflicts, and more. It offers a very realistic insight into the motivations and pressures that many students--especially male students--are still dealing with today. As a novel that is both thoughtful and well-written, for teachers, this is a window into the life of a young adult, but for a young adult, it may actually prove to be a mirror--a reflection of things they are dealing with in their own lives. And, as a book that reflects the issues that students may be dealing with, it is a great choice for classroom instruction!

Lesson Plans and other Related Links
Gangs Throughout Literature--a webquest designed to familiarize students with the actions of gangs and to create conflict resolution strategies to utilize in the future.
Getting Inside The Outsiders Through Music--a fabulous lesson plan that uses music to help students make connections between the different peer groups.
Complete Lesson Plans--Complete with vocabulary words, tests and quizzes, and discussion questions.
Post-Reading Activities--Fun, interactive activities students can do after they finish the novel.
Journalism Reporting--A fun lesson plan that introduces journalistic writing using The Outsiders novel as inspiration.
More lesson plans!--A page full of lesson plans and activities to use while teaching the text.

Check out Andrew's video review of The Outsiders!

...or, watch this clip from one of the final scenes of the film!

This wonderful wiki brought to you by Katie Cross and Christina Imgrund.