Prior to her work, when S.E. Hinton surveyed the landscape of young adult fiction, she was not happy with what she found. She was convinced that the most important detail of what life was like for young people was absent in the collection of young adult fiction that was in front of her at the time: "...she could not find "the drive-in social jungle ... the behind-the-scenes politicking that goes on in big schools, the cruel social system." The detailing of what life was really like for young people that would cause them to question "Where is reality," was part of her purpose in writing The Outsiders.
One would have to say that Hinton's purpose was accomplished through the moral of the story. The moral is one in which the acceptance of unfairness and institutional prejudice in adolescent reality is accepted. Hinton's work is radical in its depiction of the class structure as a part of this. She shows adolescents to be aware of this structure and attune to how it can be used to put down and lock others into a role of powerlessness. The Socs understand this about their relationship to the Greasers and have no problem utilizing this to their advantage. The end moral of the story is to accept what is present in the hopes of potentially changing it into what can be. Hinton argues that in understanding the reality of these class distinctions, one might be able to counter them in real life. Her purpose in trying to depict a new dimension to the adolescent world is accomplished in the work's end message. Hinton depicts this reality as something that individuals must internalize if they hope to change it. She does not soften the impact of a world where is a "social jungle and a "cruel social system." This reality is what she wishes to depict in the hopes that readers are aware of its presence and make the commitment to focus on a dialogue that can change it.