Friday, November 6, 2015

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


Fun Betta Fact of the Day:  We, as a species, are pretty territorial.  We like our space, don’t play well with other males, but are generally pretty cool with the ladies (although, will cannibalize our eggs if possible).  I found it interesting that Mrs. Edwards read this ‘classic’ book all about territorial groups of kids growing up in the 60’s.  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is about some kid named Ponyboy, which I thought would sound much tougher if it was something like Sharkboy… but that’s a different movie.  She seems to think I can learn something about the value of life and how not to fight or something… I’m just a little fish swimming in a bowl, so I don’t really understand all that.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was written in 1967 about very poignant issues that still plague our society.  Some may feel a disconnect at first as we learn about the protagonist, a 14 year old teen named Ponyboy, and his gang of Greasers, but Ponyboy and his friends are, in so many ways, just like the teens of today: struggling with being poor, having broken families or no adult in their lives, trying to take care of themselves the best way they can.  The Greasers (so called because of the amount of hair grease) are from the poor side of town.  Most of them come from broken or dysfunctional homes with little or no parental guidance, but they are loyal to each other and their territory.  The Socs (Socials) are from the wealthy part of town.  They are viewed as ‘privileged,’ drive hot cars, and act like they are entitled to do whatever they want including frequent bullying of the Greasers.

There is a constant battle between Greasers and Socs about who is allowed in certain areas of town or stores, as well as the constant harassment of one another’s gangs.  One day at a drive-in movie, Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dallas meet some Soc girls and end up walking them home.  Ponyboy shares the story of Johnny’s incident with some Socs with one of the girls named Cherry.  Later that night after Ponyboy has a fight with his older brother, he and Johnny find themselves in a violent and fatal fight with some Socs which puts the boys on the run.  During their hide-out, Ponyboy and Johnny become heroes helping a group of kids out of a burning church, but not without being seriously hurt themselves.  What will happen to Ponyboy and Johnny?

The Outsiders is an outstanding book with very powerful themes that so many students can benefit from reading.  I could easily see this book being used in conjunction with a tolerance or anti-bullying unit or with an At-Risk group of students.  Because of the connection with broken or dysfunctional homes, many of our students will be able to identify with the emotional pain the characters feel.  I can also connect the gang aspect with many of the gang and territorial issues we have in our county as well to draw students into the discussion of why and how lives matter.  

The Outsiders. (n.d.). JPEG file.

The Outsiders. (2015, Nov.6). Retrieved from <>.

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