The Outsiders Questions and Answers
by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders book cover
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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 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...

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cmriser | Student

The book is titled The Outsiders because the protagonist explores his sand others' roles as outsiders.  Ponyboy thinks that to be an outsider you have to be a "greaser" but he discovers that people who are from more privileged groups also have feelings of isolation.

mkcapen1 | Student

In society there are always going to be social groups that are accepted by a society and those that are not accepted.  Hinton, the author, began writing "The Outsiders" when she was only sixteen years old.  Adolescence is a time when children struggle hard to find the social group in which they are accepted.   Some children in modern day society may associated themselves with Goth clothing, body piercings, and/or name brand clothing.  It has always been a social myth that just because a child is a cheerleader, football player, has nice things, and is in the academically promising group, that the child is a benefit to society.  Under the same myth, society looks to the opposite characteristics to stereotype those groups in which the style of dress, group behaviors, lifestyle, and economic status, as being outside of social acceptance.  Hinton titled her book "The Outsiders" to demonstrate that the Greasers were considered to fall into this group.

monalandrum | Student

"The Outsiders" refers to the idea that although Johnny and Pony-boy are both identified as  "greasers" they don't fit into that stereotypical group any more than they would fit into the "soc" group. They can't relate to their own group in many ways so they are on the "outer" edge of their group but with the right opportunities they could have also fit with the other group. They are outside both groups and are having to learn to find their place.