Why did the author write The Outsiders?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author of The Outsiders, Susan E. Hinton, began writing the novel while she was still in her teens. An avid reader, she had become bored with standard adolescent literature and she apparently felt a bit overwhelmed with the serious nature of most adult literature. So, she decided to write a book that would appeal to teens because of its realistic nature. Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she was always interested in Westerns and horses, so she incorporated some of these interests into her story. She also incorporated many events from her own past and used examples from her high school days to create the story. She spent more than 18 months writing and revising before allowing a friend's mother to read it. The mother contacted a literary agent, and Susan Hinton received the word that a publisher would like to buy her work during her high school graduation ceremony. She changed her pen name to S. E. Hinton, presumably to hide or neutralize her female identity. The Outsiders became a best-seller and is now considered a classic of realistic adolescent literature. Director Francis Ford Coppola filmed the novel with a group of future superstar actors (Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane and Patrick Swayze), and he gave Hinton a bit part in the movie as a hospital nurse. Several of her later novels (Tex, Rumble Fish) were also brought to film. She followed up The Outsiders with That Was Then, This is Now, another novel set in Tulsa that included The Outsiders characters Ponyboy and Randy (the Soc) in small parts. 

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The Outsiders

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