Genre: Realistic Fiction.
Audience: 7th-12th grade.
Read-Alouds: The first Read-Aloud demonstrates the seperation of Socs and Greasers. It also preaches not all the Socs and Greasers are the same.
The second Read-Aloud shows the theme of friendship. This passage also demonstrates the authors use of humor with the baloney.
Summary: The Outsiders is a story about two groups, the Greasers and the Socs. The Socs are the upper-class teens from the West side of town while the Greasers are the lower-class teens. Ponyboy, a Greaser, and Cherry, a Soc, realize they have a lot in common when Dally, Ponyboy’s friend, starts flirting obnoxiously with Cherry and her friend at the movies. The boys offer to walk the girls home, but as they are walking to Two-Bit’s house for the car, they run into the girls’ boyfriends. To prevent a fight, the girls leave with their boyfriends. Later that night, Ponyboy and Johnny get into a fight with the Socs and Johnny ends up killing Bob(a Soc) out of self defense. Unsure of what to do, the boys flea and hide out at a church. Due to the death of Bob, there will be a rumble between the Socs and the Greasers! This book is about the tension between the two groups, the interaction between two groups that do not get along, and the novel questions the fighting of the Greasers and the Socs.
Themes: One of the themes in this novel is loyalty. Socs are loyal to Socs, and Greasers are loyal to Greasers. The power of peer pressure and the relationship to loyalty correlate. It is expected for each gang member to be loyal to each other. The only character to defy this rule is Cherry because she acted as a spy for the Greasers in relationship to the rumble. Ponyboy is loyal to his brother and the Greasers.
Friendship is also a prevalent theme in The Outsiders. At the end of the novel, Ponyboy realizes friendship and family is more important than fighting. He also realizes that risking his life for a fight is not worth dying for. Ponyboy claims he will not fight with Dally because Sodapop persuades him it is not worth the violence. It takes two people, one from each gang, to die for the groups to see the destruction violence plays in their life and see the effect their deaths have on the group members.
Connections: This would be a good novel to pair with Romeo and Juliet due to the violence and loyalty to a social group. Both texts question the violence and the power in a name. Another text that would be interesting to pair this novel with would be any poem that has to do with the theme of violence, gang activity, or coming of age. Any short story that addresses violence, gang activity, or a coming of age story would be a good text that could be paired with this novel. I do not know of any specifically, but I am sure if one were to Google ‘short stories’ and ‘The Outsiders‘ one would find some good results. A good picture book that could be paired with this novel is Feathers & Fools. Even though this is a short picture book, the book is effective with the theme of violence and the outcomes of fighting. Plus, students may enjoy having a picture book being read to them!
Reactions: This is the second time I’m reading this book. In seventh grade, I had to read it for school but I did not remember much of the novel. I more thoroughly enjoyed reading it this time. I was able to keep the characters straight in my head even though I would get confused with Darrel and Dallas every once in a while. I think the confusion had more to do with the small print of the book than characterization. I also understood more of the plot. In seventh grade I did not understand all the issues occurring in the novel. For example, I wondered where their parents were even though the book states Ponyboy’s parents died in a car crash. Also, I never realized how much violence was in this novel. I remember there being fighting but I did not remember all the deaths. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read for entertainment.
Reception: According to an E-Notes blurg, it states the dynamic of Soc-Greaser is questioned through “Hinton’s portrayal of the Soc-Greaser conflict. He noted that in his hometown it was the poor kids who beat up the rich ones, not the other way around.” The E-Notes site is questioning the genre and reliability of the novel. The boundary of what is the truth is being pushed and stereotypes are being addressed.
On Good Reads, one of the people who posted said “I loved The Outsiders when I read it as a teen and again when I read it just a few months ago. S. E. Hinton created a believable and engaging cast of characters who struggle with conflict in and out of their gang and learn the meaning of friendship and family.” The themes in the novel are relatable to people. In addition, the characters are memorable and fully developed.