Thinking Outside the Box on S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders”


Hunter Dickson, Reporter/ editor

S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” was a nail-biter that I was unable to put down. This past summer is when I first opened Hinton’s book, but it was eye-opening. The story takes place smack in a 1960’s American innercity where Ponyboy, the story’s protagonist, portrays the events that would soon change his group of friends and their community forever. Hinton’s work causes the reader to question societal aspects like the divide between the have’s and have-not’s, or the Socs and the Greasers, the trials of the disadvantaged, and the basic longings of the human heart.

The Socs are the kids with madras jackets and stingray cars who come from affluent families, but the Greasers are the kids who live on the wrong side of the tracks and haven’t nearly any luxuries. Most of the crime in the city is gang-related, for it results from fights between the Socs and the Greasers. The Socs hate the Greasers due to their care-free lifestyles, long hair, and ‘tuff’ attitudes, but the Greasers hate the Socs for being so opulently spoiled, being too cold and emotionless, and for being sheltered from the rugged hands of poverty and abuse.

Ponyboy lives with his two older brothers, Soda-Pop and Derry. Soda-Pop dropped out of high school to work at a gas-station, and Derry chose to not attend college and instead work construction in order to support his brothers. The boys’ parents are dead, so all they have is each other. The trials that the disadvantaged face are clearly displayed in the book such as the effects of poverty. The fact that the boys’ parents are dead forces the older ones to get jobs to take care of Ponyboy and support themselves.

Hinton portrays the basic longings of the human heart by incorporating aspects like the desire for friendship and belonging in the book. Dally is a Greaser and member of Ponyboy’s gang. Dally is the roughest of the crew and hasn’t anyone in his corner besides them. When another member of the gang, Johnny, dies from complications of a fire and a fight with the Socs, Dally loses it. He goes off on a manic spree across town where he robs a grocery store. With the cops hot on his tail, Dally pulls out a fake gun and gets shot dead by the police. Dally played the police officers into doing what he wanted because he couldn’t see himself living in a world without someone he loved.

“The Outsiders” is a great read because it has so many different elements of life that are overlooked in many books. Hinton hit the nail on the head with this one, and won this reader’s praise.