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The Outsiders

This book showed the struggle between rich and poor. The two main groups of the story were the Socs and the greasers. The Socs are in the upper class while the greasers are the poor ones that dislike the Socs because they have more money, better cars, and act like they are better than the greasers. The Outsiders is a good story by S.E. Hinton that shows the struggles of growing up Hinton did a fine job with the character development, the plot, and the theme with a few flaws.

The Outsiders is a book that changed the style of young adult writers because it went off from the genre that young adult writer were using during that time period. 

The reader sees the everyday problems that teenagers were going through, “I can’t take much more Johnny spoke my own feelings I’ll kill myself or something” (Hinton 47). Johnny felt unloved because his parents treat him bad and say hurtful things to him, but when Johnny is with the gang he feels loved because they embrace him, and let him stay at their house if he cannot bear to go home to his parents. 

So many writers were use to telling fairy tells and fables, the realism of the outsiders made it the first of its kind during the time period it was written. Todd Howard points this out in his book Understanding The Outsiders, “ Thus the overwhelming commercial success that The Outsiders enjoyed among teens shortly after its first publication, it sent astonished publishers scurrying to find writers who could duplicate the novel’s formula and gave a pause to literary critics” (Howard 8). 

Authors in the early sixty’s never thought about writing a book showing the gang and social class differences, and this is why The Outsiders was a successful book because it opened people’s eyes to the problems some teens have to go through. Dally, Soda, and Ponyboy lost their parents in a car accident and are struggling to make it on their own. The fact that all three boys were still moving on without their parents showed that they had a lot of heart. 

The two main divisions were between the Greasers and the Socs, and this rivalry led to many conflicts in the book. Hinton illustrates the divisions and fighting in this quote, “They caught him and one of them had a lot of rings on his hand that’s what had cut Johnny up so badly” (Hinton 33). Johnny was attacked by four Socs when he was playing with a football at the park. 

There are many times in the book where Socs attacked Greasers that were walking alone. Howard explains the divisions and violence of the gangs in this quote, “Tulsa was one of many American cities that had seen an increasing division between social classes since World War II, and the animosity between Greasers and Socs gangs illustrated the extent to which this division between social classes had permeated society” (Howard 28). 

The Greasers were seen as the poor outcast while the Socs were the popular one with all the money. The Socs provoke the Greasers by saying hurtful things and attacking them so both gangs feel the need to fight to prove that they are better. Hinton did a good job of portraying the violence and building up to these points and this keeps the reader interested in the book.

There are many critics and parents who were outraged about the violence that takes place in the book. This quote by Hinton demonstrates the harsh violence, “I ducked and tried to run for it but the Socs caught my arm and twisted it behind my back, and shoved my face into the fountain” (Hinton 56). 

Johnny and Ponyboy were constantly attacked because they were the most vulnerable. The Outsiders opened the eyes of many young adult reader’s who did not live in the type of environment the book takes place or experience those situations. Howard shows what the critics and parents felt in this quote, “They continued to insist that teens had no business reading novels containing the degree of violence and other ‘adult’ themes featured in Hinton’s book and certainly not in the class room” (Howard 28). 

There is a great deal of violence in The Outsiders but this violence is a example of how stupid it is and ultimately led to a death in the book. The violence is a key to the book because without it the book would be dull and have no meaning. Hinton uses this violence to show that it is not necessary and will always lead to something negative.

The Outsiders is a very popular book because so many readers felt they could relate to some of the characters and the events that took place in the book. Hinton shows how tough the characters have it by this quote, “since mom and dad were killed in an auto wreck, the three of us get to stay together only as long as we behave” (Hinton 3). Some readers can relate because their parent are gone like the three boys or they have parents but they don’t care about them like Johnny’s parents. 

Ponyboy, Darry and Soda have a rough life yet they still persevere and can be an inspiration to the reader. Howard explains how the characters can have effect on the reader in this quote, “The extent to which these components come together in The Outsiders to form the characters that ring true for a given reader largely determines the extent to which the reader cares about the outcome of the story” (Howard 49). 

When the reader find out what certain characters have been through it draws in the reader’s attention and appeals to his or her emotion. The characters make the reader think about his or her own problems and how much of an easier life they have than the characters have. 

This book can ring true for some many of the readers because they may have gone through some of the problems presented in the book or they might know someone who has gone through similar circumstances.
The development of the characters also made The Outsiders a good book because the reader gets to know each character in depth. 

An example of how Hinton went in depth with her characters, “Darry is six-feet-two, and broad-shouldered and muscular he has dark-brown hair that kicks out in front and a slight cowlick in the back just like dad’s but Darry’s eyes are his own” (Hinton 6). Hinton dose an excellent job of helping the reader to visualize the characters. Rather than just introducing a character in one line Hinton give lot of information about the characters and this is what made her book different. 

Marie Napierkowski makes this evident in her narrative "The Outsiders" Novels for Students, “Hinton is a character writer instead of an idea writer she develops her characters in depth and then lets them create the story” (Napierkowski). In The Outsiders Johnny is seen as a sacrificial lamb because he is beat constantly and in the end he ends up dying. 

By going in depth with the characters the reader gets to know how certain characters will react to certain events in the book. Darry and Dallas are the tough ones Johnny and Ponyboy are the sensitive one and Soda and Steve are the ladies men. 

There three themes and they are growing up, difference in social classes, and staying gold. In Johnny’s final letter to Ponyboy he tell him what staying gold meant, “I’ve been thinking about that poem the guy that wrote it meant you’re gold when you’re a kid when you’re a kid everything is a new dawn” (Hinton 178). Johnny told Ponyboy that the way that he always loved to watch the sunset was gold and that he should stay that way. 

Johnny felt like he was ready to go because he found out what being gold meant and saved those little kids that were trapped in the burning church. When asked in an interview what staying gold meant Hinton said, “Gold is openness to other people an ability to empathize [to understand and share another person’s thoughts, feelings, or emotions] with other human beings” (Wilson 20). 

The Greasers showed that they could empathize with one another because they stuck together and stood up to the Socs who thought that they were so much better. Ponyboy grew from the experiences he had to go through and lost his best friend Johnny. Ponyboy and Johnny were the only two characters that could understand staying gold because the other characters were not as sensitive as they both were.

Many critics applaud Hinton for the success of her first book she created this novel so early in her career yet still did a great job with it. Hinton tied the book together with this quote, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home” (Hinton 180). The Outsiders starts out with this quote and ends with it. 

It ties the book together and makes the reader go back to the beginning and think about how the book started and where it ended up. In Thompson Gale narrative one critic named Thomas Fleming said that, “Miss Hinton's performance is impressive.... She has produced a book alive with the fresh dialogue of her contemporaries, and has wound around it a story that captures, in vivid patches at least, a rather unnerving slice of teen-age America” (Gale).

 The dialogue between the characters kept the book interesting and gave the reader more insight on the characters by the way they talk to each other. Critics saw Hinton as too young to write a good book yet she proved them wrong. Her book has sold millions of copies and continues to remain well-liked novel to this day.

Some critics thought that the book had too much action in it and this made the story drag out. This is the climax of the story, “Bob, the handsome Soc, was lying there in the moon light, doubled up and still” (Hinton 56). Ponyboy was being drowned by Bob and Johnny was the only one that was there to help. Johnny pulled out his switch blade and stabbed Bob and it killed Bob Ponyboy is in disbelief of what happened.

 As Jay Daly explained in this quote, “The action of the story continues nearly nonstop pausing occasionally to look at the stars or talk about southern gentlemen but only for a short time before rushing ahead” (Daly 17). 

The action of the story can make the reader get bored of it quickly or it can continue to keep the reader interested. Some of the action was forced to keep the book going but overall it was not bad. Many young readers like reading a book with lots of action so this is why the book is such a big hit.

Overall the book was high-quality book written by a seventeen year old to express the stupidity of gangs and social classes. Hinton may not have been the best writer because of her young age but she revolutionized the way book were wrote after The Outsiders. Hinton was effective in getting her points across through her characters, the plot, and the themes of the story.

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