The Outsiders at a Glance
"Maybe the two different worlds we live in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset."
- The Outsiders
About the Author:
Often considered the most successful novelist for the junior high and high school audience, S. E. Hinton is credited with creating realistic young adult literature. Her career began with the publication of her first book, The Outsiders (1967), at the age of seventeen. Susan Eloise Hinton was born on July 22, 1950, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Remarking that there was little to do for a child growing up in Tulsa, Hinton turned to reading and writing at a very early age. The shy girl also had dreams of becoming a cattle rancher, until she abandoned this desire for a writing career. As a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hinton developed her love of literature but often found her options limited and boring. While she was a junior in high school, Hinton's father was diagnosed with cancer. To help her deal with her father's condition, Hinton turned to writing. During this time, Hinton completed a book she called The Outsiders. Eventually, Hinton produced several other novels including That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), Rumble Fish (1975), and Tex (1979). In all of her novels she explores the struggle of growing up and exposure to dangers such as drugs, violence, and family disruption. "S. E. Hinton Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2016.
Based on events that occurred in her high school in Tulsa, The Outsiders describes the rivalry between two gangs, the lower-middle-class "greasers" and the upper-class "socs" (for Socials), a conflict that leads to the deaths of members of both gangs. Narrated by fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, a sensitive, orphaned greaser who tells the story in retrospect (after the events occurred), The Outsiders explores the friendship, loyalty, and affection that lie behind the gang mystique while pointing out both the similarities in the feelings of the opposing groups and the uselessness of gang violence. Through his encounters with death, Ponyboy learns that he does not have to remain an outsider. Initially regarded as controversial for its portrayal of rebellious youth, the novel is now recognized as a classic of juvenile literature as well as a unique accomplishment for so young a writer. "S. E. Hinton Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2016.