The Outsiders deals with issues commonly faced by adolescents.  What are some of these issues?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that two of the most evident issues seen in Hinton's work lies in the domain of belonging to a group and how to deal with a reality where unfairness is present.  Both topics seem to occupy a great deal of importance in the perception frame of the adolescent, and Hinton hits on both in strong fashion.  The Greasers and Socs strive for social dominance.  Yet, the former will always be seen as second class, for they lack the material wealth and status of the first group.  This causes them to look to one another for belonging and for identity because they are not experiencing much of this from the social setting in general, and from their own settings.  This is a strong adolescent theme because there is a belief in adolescence that one's peer group has a better understanding of the individual than anyone else.  One identifies with their peer group for this reason.  Another issue present is how Hinton has her characters deal with the condition of what is and what should be.  When writing the book, Hinton asked of previous literature about adolescent life, "Where is the cruel social setting?"  She brought it out in her novel.  Her work is one where there is class conflict, discrimination based on one's condition in life and a lack of understanding about the nature of individuals.  Having her young characters seek to find their way through this jungle is what makes her work so powerful to adolescent literature, often striving to make right what is wrong or seeking to bring attention to how what is might actually be wrong.

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