Alice’s Attic: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Today I unearthed The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
In a world sharply divided between Greasers and Socs, haves and have-nots — between the rich and entitled & the poor and outcast — we find Ponyboy. Here is a complicated hero, smart and insightful (even though few in his gang are), yet fiercely loyal and proud of his blood. Together with his protective brothers, Ponyboy is content (eager, even) to fight for his side, to stand up for the looked-down-upon. This resistance to bullying breeds violence against violence, and a lot of The Outsiders is not pretty. And it is only after an accidental murder committed by his closest friend that Ponyboy begins to question this silly segmentation of his fellow youth.
Why this book rocks: It is universal. Anyone can be an outsider. And in some respects, everyone is an outsider. Substitute ‘Greasers’ and ‘Socs’ for whatever cliques you see around you. Who’s in your group? Someone with a tough family life and the will toward resilience? See Johnny Cade. Someone with a solid-rock exterior but with hints of a soft interior? See Dallas Winston. This book is so full of relatable “outsiders,” it’s hard to see anyone being a true insider in real life.
In the end, Ponyboy sees this, too. We watch him make the connection that the label is arbitrary: the individual is what’s important. And we believe in the message.
Who should read this book: Anyone (especially a young person) who has ever felt ‘outside’ to the socially ‘in’ crowd — whether by popularity, by money, or any other standard. And anyone who has ever suspected – as Cherry Valence does, even while dating a Soc! – that the people they’re told to hate may not be so bad after all.
Life lesson handed down: Think. Don’t let others do it for you.
About Alice’s Attic
Rickety floorboards, killer sprickets (uh, they’re real, and they’re deadly), and dust avalanches won’t stop us from heading down memory lane.