Why is the book titled The Outsiders?

This book is titled The Outsiders because the name Outsiders ostensibly refers to the Greasers, social outcasts who band together for a sense of belonging and safety. The name also refers to Socs and Greasers who see beyond their group identity to recognize the humanity in their rivals.

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The Outsiders is a title that can be viewed a few different ways. The most obvious is that the Greasers are outsiders in that they come from the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder in their community. The main characters are teens and young adults growing up in the poorest...

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The Outsiders is a title that can be viewed a few different ways. The most obvious is that the Greasers are outsiders in that they come from the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder in their community. The main characters are teens and young adults growing up in the poorest part of town with parents who are either abusive (as in the case of Johnny), neglectful or dead. Darry is old before his time, working overtime to keep a roof over the heads his brothers, Soda Pop and Pony Boy. He clearly cares very much for his brothers and has taken on the role of mother and father in place of his dead parents. Despite his efforts, the three brothers still live in fear of the state taking away Soda and Pony Boy to go live in a boy's home.

This threat illustrates a major way in which the Greasers are outsiders—the law does not exist to protect them like it does for the Socs. The Greasers form gangs to have a sense of belonging and mutual protection in the face of a society that is overtly hostile but for this very reason they are considered dangerous hoodlums and misfits. Where the law and public opinion is concerned when trouble arises, they are assumed guilty. When Pony Boy and Johnny are attacked by the Socs and Johnny kills Bob, it is, objectively, an act of self-defense. Bob is older boy, drunk and backed by his friends. He clearly initiates the fight and beats the skinny Pony Body with his ringed-fist. He is actually drowning Pony Boy when Johnny stabs him. Despite all this, because they are Greasers, Johnny and Pony Boy know that society will come down on Bob's side. It is only by publicly saving school children from a fire and by the testimony of Cherry that Pony Boy avoids prison. Johnny only escapes in death.

The term Outsiders can also be interpreted to refer to the way that both Socs and Greasers can transcend their group identities. Pony Boy never fits in as a Greaser. He is intelligent, thoughtful and studious. Darry worries that he's too much of a dreamer and too soft. It is because of these very qualities, however, that Pony Boy befriends Cherry. As Bob's girlfriend and a Soc, she's beautiful, wealthy, and popular. That said, she rebels against Bob's rudeness. She finds Dally attractive and thinks Pony Boy is sweet. She's willing to put herself on the line to tell the truth about Bob's death. Pony Boy summarizes the kindred humanity that draws them together despite the social pressures that would keep them apart by noting how you can see the sunset on the north side of town as well as the south.

There are other such instances of Socs and Greasers defying class. At the Rumble Darry initially greets Paul, the leader of the Socs. It's explained that the two once played football together and they hold one another in mutual respect.

Randy, Bob's best friend, seeks out Pony Boy to ask about Johnny and why he and Pony Boy would risk their lives to save children they don't know. Such heroism is clearly out of keeping with the stereotype he previously held about Greasers. Randy is also torn because he wants the Socs to win the rumble and he's upset that his friend is dead, but he knows that Bob was in the wrong and realizes that Pony Boy is a decent person. In this conversation, Bob gets to drop his guard and not have to play the role expected of him by his fellow Socs. He offers one token of respect to his rival when he says, "Thanks kid."

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Author Susan B. Hinton used the title of her famed adolescent novel to illustrate the isolation felt by the various gangs that she witnessed while growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The greasers are particularly shown as outsiders: They grow up on the wrong side of the tracks on the poor side of town, and the boys find an identity only when hanging together looking for trouble on the streets. Most of the greasers realize they have little or no chance of escaping their dead- end lives: Soda, Steve and Dally are dropouts, Johnny never completes school, and even boys like Darry--a great athlete with a football scholarship awaiting him--are never able to fulfill their promise. Only Pony seems to have a chance to go on to college and get out of the lifestyle. But it is not only the greasers who are outsiders: The Socs also live outside the teenage norm. They are the privileged rich kids who have plenty of money and no boundaries set down by their parents. They also resort to a life of crime and violence, mostly out of boredom, and few of them live up to their societal expectations. Cherry recognizes that "things are rough all over" and, as Randy tells Pony,

"Sometimes I think it's the ones in the middle that are really the lucky stiffs..."  (Chapter 7)

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Part of the allure of the title in Hinton's work is the idea that social settings are constantly defined with insiders and "outsiders."  Each social realm is predicated upon some level of exclusion.  The terms of "right" or "wrong" might not be applicable in such a context because of the natural element of exclusion which is apparent in each social order.  In the work, the "Socs" are the insiders, as they represent the "popular" or "accepted" values.  Hinton's work delves deep into the voices of those who have the unfortunate distinction of being "on the outside."  In entitling her work in the manner she did, Hinton seeks to bring voice to those who have been relegated to the periphery, where silence is most present.  The book gives voice to those who might have been seen as not having one.

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This is because the book largely focusses on a group of teenagers, the 'greasers' who are generally looked down on for their relatively low social status. This is emphasised by their constant running battles with the Socs (short for Socials) who are from wealthier, higher-class backgrounds. The narrator of the book, Ponyboy Curtis, is one of the greasers, and he feels somewhat at odds even with his own group at times.

The title could also be taken as referring to the whole experience of being a teenager, when one is no longer a child and not yet an adult, and therefore something of an 'outsider' in society as a whole.

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This book has this title because it accurately captures the feelings of all the major characters in the book.  In the story, all of the people that we meet (and especially the main characters) feel like "outsiders."

By this, I mean that they all feel that society is against them in some way.  They are dissatisfied with their lives.

You might think that only the Greasers are outsiders because they are the ones who society looks down on the most.  But even the Socs feel that society does not understand them and does not give them the approval and support that they need.

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