The Outsiders is a remarkable novel that tells a very realistic story. It’s written in 1967 by S. E. Hinton, who at that time was only seventeen years old. Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She read a lot, but wasn’t satisfied with the literature that was being written for young adults, and this led to her writing “The Outsiders”.
The novel revolves around a youth gang called “Greasers”, situated in an American suburb sometime during the sixties. The Greasers constantly have a quarrel going on with another gang, called the Socs. Socs is the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West-side rich kids. It’s like the term “greaser”, which is used to class all the boys on the East side. The two opponents often get into fistfights with each other, and sometimes the outcome can be fatal.
The book starts with Pony, the main character, describing himself, his life, his family, friends and enemies when he is suddenly attacked by their rival gang, the Socs. It’s a bit dramatic start, but it makes the readers more easily understand why the greasers hate the Socs as much as they do. And it’s exactly this hatred that constructs the tension that evolves into the climax. When Pony has decided to run away and goes to find Johnny in the lot, they get jumped by Socs and Johnny, who is caring a knife, ends up killing one. The two boys get frightened and seek help with an older and tougher greaser that tells them to run away to the country. The novel has reached a climax; the boys have to flee their lives as they know them, to avoid getting arrested for murder.
Nevertheless, the climax mentioned above is not the only turning point in this novel. The whole gang gets their lives turned upside down when Johnny dies as a result of a heroic act pulled of by Pony, Johnny and Dally. They were saving a bunch of children out of the burning church they had used as a hideout, when the roof gave in over Johnny and he was taken to the hospital with a broken neck. Johnny dies from the injury and Dally gets a breakdown that ends with him getting himself killed by the police in front of the whole gang.
The ending of the story is brilliant; Pony is failing English but if he comes up with a good semester theme he will pass. Ponyboy decides to write an essay about all the things he has experienced in the last few days. He begins the essay in the same way as the book starts. And that way the novel is actually the essay Ponyboy writes in the end.
The books main character is Ponyboy Curtis, a fourteen year old boy, whose parents were killed in an auto wreck. Ponyboy have light-brown, almost-red hair and greenish-grey eyes. His hair is longer than a lot of boys wear theirs, squared off in back and long at the front and sides, like a typical greaser. He has a good build too. He and his two older brothers, Sodapop and Darrel, got to stick together and work hard to get food on the table. The three brothers live alone in a house in very poor state of repair. His brothers have a great impact on him and Pony looks very much up to them. Family has a high rate for him, and when things don’t turn out the way he wants them to, he often turn to Johnny Cage in despair. Johnny has a rough time at home too, getting beaten by his father and his mother ignoring him. Throughout the novel Pony changes his feelings towards Darry, his oldest brother. In the beginning he feels as he doesn’t know Darry and that Darry doesn’t like him, but this develop during the book and they end up with a new understanding of each other.
The greasers talk to each other with a lot of slang, but the telling part is written in “normal” English. The slang helps to emphasize the social differences between the East and West side. Because when the Socs talk, they don’t use that much slang.
Ponyboy and his gang lives in an American suburb, they dig the Beatles and Elvis Presley. They belong to a lower class than the Socs and the middle class, and many greasers get into a lot of trouble. Their gang is their lives and their family. There are strong bond amongst all greasers. If something goes wrong with one of the members, the others are their in a second. The boys have different “roles” in the gang, Ponyboy is the smart one, Johnny is the gang’s “pet”, whereas Darry is the gang’s uncrowned king and the best fighter, Sodapop is the handsome one that gets all the women, Steve is Sodas best friend, Two-Bit is the funny one and, finally, Dally is the absent member who very well could have killed a person.
One of the main themes in the book is about social differences. In the beginning the differences between the Socs and the greasers are all written in black and white, it’s all about money. However, they realize that they care about the same stuff; they listen to the same music, see the same sunsets and share many of the same feelings such as fear, love and sorrow. Another important theme is friendship. The gang stick up for each other no matter what; they are each others family, support and safety. They’ll sacrifice everything just to stay together.
Ponyboy tells the story in a first person, subjective account of events, explaining how we should interpret events and people in the story. Pony talks directly to the readers and this makes the novel informal and it’s easy to become part of the scene and story. We agree with Pony’s point of views and sympathize with him.
This was a great book. It gave me a taste of how life on the street might be like. I got a deep look into the emotional life of its characters and how they behave and feel within themselves. I really got the feeling that I were there. The book is filled with wise words and sentences. I especially liked the one where Johnny is dying and is saying to Pony: Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold. He is referring to the poem Pony told him in the church, and he is trying to tell Johnny to stay the way he is; innocent. He knows that Pony is better than the average hoodlum and he wants Pony to keep his good values to get out of the lower-class life. Johnny’s saying has a deep meaning that we all should hold on to; keep our good values and innocence.