I will start by saying that I knew nothing of this story when I started reading it. I later found out that it is a bit of a classic, especially in the US. The fact that S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was only 16 years old only adds to the book’s appeal.
Short presentation of the book
The story takes place in Oklahoma, although this is never mentioned in the book. It follows the rivalry between two gangs: The Greasers (from the poorer part of town) and The Socs (short for Socials – the rich kids). The story is told from the point of view of Ponyboy Curtis, a 14-year old Greaser, who lives with his two brothers, Darry and Sodapop, both older than him. The book begins with Ponyboy leaving the movie theatre and walking home when he’s attacked by a group of Socs. His brothers and fellow Greasers come to save him before he’s hurt too badly.
This opening scene captures the central point of the novel – the neverending battle between classes. The book gives a strong feeling of belonging, Ponyboy being loved by both his family and his friends, even though every one of them is different and come from difficult backgrounds.
The Greasers help each other in any situation, no questions asked.
The plot thickens when Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny meet Cherry and Marcia, two Socs girls. I won’t spoil the rest of the story by giving any more details, but from then, the action flows rapidly towards an unexpected ending.
This Reading Badger’s opinion about the story
The book is very easy to read, short and concise. For this reason and others, I recommend it to be read while young. I must admit, that reading it in my late 20’s, it lost a lot of impact on me. When you’re older, youths problems seem less important. However, S.E. Hinton did a great job of capturing the struggles of teenagers, from social acceptance to personal moral values. I invite you to read it and find out…are you a Greaser or a Socs?