The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was first published in 1967 and tells a coming-of-age story. It became the foundation from which young adult fiction has since built from. The narrative is a snapshot of the life of a 14-year-old boy named Ponyboy Curtis and follows his struggles with the many moral layers of society, from which he believes he is an outsider. One such struggle is Ponyboy and his brothers’ rivalry with the wealthy young men of the West-side, known as the Socs.
The story’s theme explores what it is like to be an outsider, something that many teenagers throughout history have likely experienced. The author suggests that believing one is being treated as an outsider is simply a perspective. Teenagers enter this transitional period in a society that expects them to act like adults but treats them still as children. Their lives are still heavily controlled by adults, parents and teachers, who tell them what to do and how to live, often leading them to believe their lives are unfair. This perception of unfairness informs many of Ponyboy’s attitudes towards his life, such as knowing he is not safe walking in the streets of his own neighborhood. He feels powerless and vulnerable.
Another theme The Outsiders heavily explores is the gap between the rich and poor. It tells the story of two rival teenager groups, who come from different social classes. However, Hinton explores the idea of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor by showing the commonalities between the two groups, including when Pony has a discussion with a member of the Soc and learns about their mutual interest in literature and popular music. Pony’s character develops through his lessons in the pattern of the shared experiences between the two groups. He earns that the Socs, too, experience challenges, even the same challenges as he does. But they are presented in different practical ways. Love, fear, grief are universal human experiences.
The author reminds the audience that social class differences are merely societal constructs, and that, perhaps, we are all not so different from one another, no matter the status.
"Well of course I was introduced to The Outsiders through school for required reading. In the beginning of the book I didn't really know what to expect. When Ponyboy got jumped I felt sorry for him and instantly hated the Socs. I think that the outsiders was a very touching and interesting book. You never really knew what was going to happen. Like, I didn't expect Dally to die. I men I was crying half of the time while reading the book. I think it's awesome that S.E. Hinton wrote the Outsiders when she was only like 15/16. I guess my favorite character was Ponyboy because he was different than all the other greasers. He was smarter, deeper and more sensitive. Although he did cry a lot, I was kinda expecting him to be a bit tougher. The outsiders was very accurate to what teens might have gone through 40 years ago and I found it very interesting. The theme of the book was basically that no matter who you are everyone has problems. I wish Dally and Johnny didn't die but I guess that's what made the book better. This was definitely an amazing books for teenagers to read. It's not just about hoodlums beating up preps, it's much deeper. The outsiders has all the ideas of family, friendship and real life issues while still managing to be funny and entertaining yet sad."
Alice (5 out of 5 stars)