Introduction to The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton published in 1967. Hinton was a high school student when she wrote the book, which was inspired by her own observations of gang warfare in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The novel is narrated in the first person by Ponyboy Curtis, a thoughtful and sensitive member of the greasers, a working-class gang who regularly fight with the upper-class Socs. When a member of the greasers kills a Soc, bringing the conflict to a boil, Ponyboy learns valuable lessons about belonging, friendship, family, and goodness. Though frequently challenged on the basis of its themes, language, and subject matter, The Outsiders remains an enduring classic of young adult literature. It was adapted into a major motion picture in 1983.

A Brief Biography of S. E. Hinton

S. E. Hinton (born 1948) was drawn to writing novels for young adults because she couldn’t stand the literature she was forced to read when she was in high school. She was only a freshman at her Oklahoma high school when she started what would become her most famous work, The Outsiders, the second-biggest seller in young adult books even today. Unafraid of exposing teenage rebellion, acts of juvenile delinquency, and social conduct found in teenage subcultures, Hinton went on to write four more novels, including Rumble Fish, which spoke directly to teens, expressing their feelings as best she could rather than trying to preach to them. Not surprisingly, Hinton herself is a bit of a rebel—she now refuses to speak or to read in public to promote her books.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Outsiders

The Outsiders

One of the main messages in The Outsiders is that conflicts are destructive, particularly those that originate between people from different socioeconomic classes. Cherry tells Pony early in the...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:58 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

When it was first published in 1967, S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders was both revolutionary and controversial. In the history of literature intended for young adults, The Outsiders is a milestone for...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:37 am (UTC)

3 educator answers

The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a 1967 young adult novel written by American writer S. E. Hinton. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis—a poor fourteen-year-old orphan who, along with his...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 2:39 pm (UTC)

4 educator answers

The Outsiders

Before he dies, Johnny tells Ponyboy to "Stay gold." These words are from a Robert Frost poem called "Nothing Gold Can Stay," which both boys read and discussed earlier in the novel. The poem is...

Latest answer posted August 26, 2020, 11:29 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Outsiders

In The Outsiders, Johnny is considered the gang's pet and has a terrible relationship with both of his parents. Johnny's father is physically abusive, and his mother continually ignores him unless...

Latest answer posted August 26, 2020, 12:37 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Both Sodapop and Ponyboy Curtis are real names. We are told that the names were chosen by the boys' late father, who clearly had creative taste in names. It is in Ponyboy's conversation with Cherry...

Latest answer posted August 26, 2020, 11:08 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

It's fair to say that Sodapop Curtis is not really cut out for school or any other sort of formal education. A happy-go-lucky young man, someone who seemingly doesn't take life all that seriously,...

Latest answer posted August 26, 2020, 11:23 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Toward the end of chapter 8, Ponyboy and Two-Bit run into Cherry Valance before the big rumble, and she informs them that the Socs plan on fighting fair by not using weapons. When Two-Bit leaves,...

Latest answer posted August 26, 2020, 11:03 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Johnny carries a switchblade to protect himself and his friends. He was jumped by the Socs in the past and wants to be prepared in case it happens again. Early on in the book, there is a scene in...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 2:46 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

After the rumble with the Socs in chapter 9 of The Outsiders, Dally brings Ponyboy with him to the hospital to see Johnny, who is in critical condition and close to death. When Dally and Pony...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 7:02 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Three prevalent themes in The Outsiders include the death of parents, gang violence, and friendship. Darry, Ponyboy, and Sodapop's parents have died in a car accident, leaving Darry in charge of...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:26 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

On one level, green eyes represent a common human trait used to prejudge other people based on their appearance or the group to which they belong. We learn early in the novel that Ponyboy Curtis...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 12:21 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Leading up to the big rumble in chapter 9, Pony has spent five days on the run in Windrixville and has miraculously rescued several children from a burning church. After experiencing several...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 12:30 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Sodapop seems to be the happy-go-lucky Curtis brother who doesn't have a care in the world. Ponyboy believes that his older brother really doesn't have any conflicts and takes his easygoing...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:19 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Although other members of the greasers in The Outsiders drink alcohol often (and at a young age), Sodapop Curtis doesn’t drink alcohol at all. He thinks that everyone who drinks is trying to drown...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:28 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

Loyalty is an important theme in The Outsiders, and there are many times that loyalty is both demonstrated and tested in the book. The illustrations of how loyal the gang can be to one another are...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:11 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

There are two competing social groups in The Outsiders. The Socs are the wealthy kids from the West Side of town, and the greasers are the poor kids from the East Side. The name is associated with...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:09 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

In The Outsiders, Two-Bit is described as a tough character with a devil-may-care attitude. His most prized possession is his ten-inch, black-handled switchblade, which he procured through...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 1:14 pm (UTC)

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The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a young adult novel, which means that it is a work of fiction. However, the story was inspired by events that really happened in author S. E. Hinton's high school and community in...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:50 am (UTC)

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The Outsiders

In chapter three of The Outsiders, Ponyboy dozes off next to Johnny in a parking lot after their exciting night with the Soc cheerleaders. When Ponyboy finally wakes up, he realizes that it is two...

Latest answer posted August 25, 2020, 11:06 am (UTC)

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Summary