The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton


Author: S.E. Hinton

ISBN: 9780142407332

Publication Date: 1967

Genre: Realistic fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age: 13 and up

Plot: The setting takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1965 and is about two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Ponyboy, a member of the Greasers, has experienced many fights and understands the intensity between the two gangs. Him and his gang members encounter brawls with the Socs and eventually find themselves in deeper trouble as time goes by. A series of unfortunate events continue to appear and Ponyboy must struggle with the loss of loved ones and is consumed with constant aggressive behavior.

Critical Evaluation: Hinton does an impressive job at informing the reader of the seriousness of gangs and violence in low socioeconomic areas. Teens growing up in neighborhoods where gang members are patrolling the area are susceptible to be initiated in dangerous incidences. Although there is a serious stigma on teens in gangs, Hinton has shown to the reader how these members all are important in each other’s lives even though they live a dangerous lifestyle. One other element to take into consideration is the dialogue that Hinton uses. Interactions between the teens are slightly difficult to understand because of the slang that was used during the 1960s.

Reader’s Annotation: Ponyboy and his friends are all members in a gang that always runs into trouble. Little do they know that there will be challenging trials ahead.

Author: Retrieved from S.E. Hinton’s “biography” page on her official website

“Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed reading but wasn’t satisfied with the literature that was being written for young adults, which influenced her to write novels like The Outsiders. That book, her first novel, was published in 1967 by Viking.

Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as “The Voice of the Youth” among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer’s block.

Her boyfriend (and now, her husband),who had gotten sick of her being depressed all the time, eventually broke this block. He made her write two pages a day if she wanted to go anywhere. This eventually led to That Was Then, This Is Now.

That Was Then, This Is Now is known to be a much more well thought out book than The Outsiders. Because she read a lot of great literature and wanted to better herself, she made sure that she wrote each sentence exactly right. She continued to write her two pages a day until she finally felt it was finished in the summer of 1970, she got married a few months later. That Was Then, This is Now was published in 1971.

In 1975, S.E. Hinton published Rumble Fish as a novel (she had published a short story version in a 1968 edition of Nimrod, which was a literary supplement for the University of Tulsa Alumni Magazine).

Rumble Fish was the shortest novel she had published. It received a great deal of contrasting opinions, with one reviewer claiming it to be her best book and the next claiming it to be her last.

The latter was apparently wrong. Tex was published in 1979, four years after Rumble Fish. It received great reviews and people raved about how the writing style had matured since previous publications. Tex would be the last book S.E. Hinton published for nine years. After another span of four years, S.E. Hinton’s son, Nick was born.

Four years after Tex was released, quite a few major events took place in S.E. Hinton’s life. In March of 1983, the movie The Outsiders was released. The following August, Nicholas David was born. Two months later the movie Rumble Fish was released.

In 1985 the movie version of That Was Then, This Is Now was released. Three years later S.E. Hinton became the first person to receive the YASD/SLJ Author Achievement Award, which was given by the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association and School Library Journal.

Taming The Star Runner was released in October of that year. It was the first book that S.E. Hinton had published that wasn’t in first person. With a seven-year wait, S.E. Hinton released another book in 1995. This time she did something that no one expected.

Big David, Little David was written for children around the kindergarten age. This deviation from Teen fiction seems to be a reflection of the current important things in S.E. Hinton’s life: Family. The children’s fiction trend continues with her latest release- The Puppy Sister, which is a fantasy book written for Elementary school level children.”

Curriculum Ties:

  • Gang related violence
  • Coping
  • Aggressive behavior

Booktalking Ideas:

  • How well do you think Hinton did on portraying the male protagonist, Ponyboy?

Challenging Issues:

  • Violence
  • Alcohol
  • Profanity

Defensive Maneuvers:

  • I would be sure to study and memorize the library’s collection policy.
  • The Library Bill of Rights must also be brought to the challenger’s attention stating that the library is an information institution that provides both information and ideas.
  • Have both good and bad reviews (from respected sources) about the book at hand.
  • Remember to mention the awards and honors that the item has received.
  • Be sure to listen to the person who is challenging the book and do not interrupt them while they are speaking. Try to understand where the patron is coming from when he or she states their concerns about the material.
  • When you respond to the challenger, have a calm and respectable tone informing them that the library must do all that it can to provide intellectual freedom to its patrons, young and old.

Why This Movie? The immense amount of drama between the young boys fueled my interest throughout the entire book.


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