S. E. Hinton Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What developments in American society during the 1960’s made S. E. Hinton’s young adult novels possible?

What insights into the moral life do Hinton’s young male characters display?

What are the weaknesses of Hinton’s characterization of females, and how do you account for her shortcomings in creating satisfactory female characters?

In what ways does Hinton show herself to have been a well-read teenager when composing The Outsiders?

Are Hinton’s adult characters extraneous to the plots of her novels?

Is there a conflict between Hinton’s belief in the importance of retaining childhood innocence and her relegation of adults—the usual sustainers and protectors of children—to the periphery of her novels?

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although known primarily for her long fiction, S. E. Hinton has also written two children’s books, the humorous picture book Big David, Little David (1995) and the elementary-age chapter book The Puppy Sister (1995), both loosely inspired by her own son. In 2007, Hinton published Some of Tim’s Stories, a collection of linked short stories that also contains several interviews not published elsewhere. She received credit with Francis Ford Coppola for the 1983 screenplay adaptation of her novel Rumble Fish and served as an adviser and played cameo roles in the film adaptations of Tex (1982) and The Outsiders (1983).


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

S. E. Hinton’s novels have collectively sold more than ten million copies and have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her first four books were cited by the American Library Association as Best Books for Young Adults. In 1988, shortly before the publication of her fifth novel, Hinton became the first recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, a lifetime achievement award given by the young adult division of the American Library Association and School Library Journal. In 1997, Hinton received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Her first four novels were adapted into films that helped launch the careers of several notable actors, including Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise. The Outsiders also was adapted as a short-lived television series in the 1990’s. Hinton is widely recognized by scholars as having helped create the contemporary form of young adult literature, and she has made a long-lasting and undeniable impact on the field.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Chevalier, Tracy, ed. Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers. 3d ed. Chicago: St. James Press, 1989. Includes a concise review of Hinton’s major works.

Daly, Jay. Presenting S. E. Hinton. Updated ed. Boston: Twayne, 1989. A comprehensive and authoritative reference.

Drew, Bernard A. The One Hundred Most Popular Young Adult Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1997. Helpful commentary on Hinton and list of additional references.