The Outsiders (L-I-T Guide)

( 6 )


December 1997

"I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and because it was too late to tell them that there was still good in it and they wouldn't believe you if you did.... Someone should tell their side of the story, and ...

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December 1997

"I could picture hundreds and hundreds of boys living on the wrong sides of cities, boys with black eyes who jumped at their own shadows. Hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better. I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and because it was too late to tell them that there was still good in it and they wouldn't believe you if you did.... Someone should tell their side of the story, and maybe people would understand them and wouldn't be so quick to judge a boy by the amount of hair oil he wore."

The Outsiders is a book that delves deeply into the hearts, minds, and stories of a group that had no voice before S. E. Hinton gave them one. She began writing the book at age 15, spurred on by the disturbing trend she saw growing in her high school towards division between groups. "I was worried and angered by the social situation," Hinton writes. "I saw two groups at the extreme ends of the social scale behaving in an idiotic fashion -- one group was being condemned and one wasn't.... When a friend of mine was beaten up for no other reason than that some people didn't like the way he combed his hair, I took my anger out by writing about it."

Thirty years after it was first published, The Outsiders still carries the same frightening and unifying messages for teens (and readers of all ages) of the '90s. The ruthlessly realistic and violent story of the Greasers and the Socs, rival gangs from very different sides of the railroad tracks, is narrated by Ponyboy Curtis, a smart, sensitive kid who has grown to become one of the most recognizable figures in the history of young adult literature. Any teen who has ever felt isolated or different can identify with Ponyboy, a kid forced to be tough on the outside, but who underneath is just as scared and needy as anyone. Hinton herself has said that she has never written a character as close to her own self as Ponyboy is. Young Adult fiction was shaped and defined by Susan Eloise Hinton, and the realism she attached to the genre became the norm, enabling later writers like Robert Cormier and Judy Blume to find characters and voices that actually spoke to adolescents. Since 1967, Ponyboy has become the hero for countless teenagers nationwide, and now, with the rerelease of the book to commemorate 30 years of readers, The Outsiders stands to influence an entire new legion of adolescents who need Ponyboy as much as ever.

Three brothers struggle to stay together after their parents' death, as they search for an identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society in which they find themselves "outsiders."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566440592
  • Publisher: Educational Impression
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Series: L-I-T Guide Series
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,462,297

Meet the Author

The recipient of the first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award for distinguished contribution to young adult literature, S. E. Hinton is the author of several popular young adult novels, including That Was Then, This Is Now (Viking). Several of Ms. Hinton's books have been made into movies, most notably The Outsiders, which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Ms. Hinton lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, December 3rd, welcomed S. E. Hinton to discuss THE OUTSIDERS.

Moderator: Welcome, S. E. Hinton, and thank you for joining us online tonight! It is truly an honor. How are things in Tulsa this evening?

S E Hinton: Cold and Christmasy.

Rory from Florida: S. E., two questions: 1) What was it like to be a writer at age 15? I am 13 and started writing a book of commentaries yesterday. 2) What are your future plans for writing? Thanks. :-) :-) :-) :-)

S E Hinton: I think I was a writer as soon as I learned to read. It is never too early to start practicing because all writing is just practice to get better. 2) I don't like to write until I have something to say. I know that doesn't stop a lot of writers, but it puts a damper on me.

Scott Austin from Eatonville, WA: No question, just a thank you.... Your writing has affected my life for years. I'm 36/M. If there is a hall of fame for have my vote....THANKS.

S E Hinton: Thanks for the support, Scott.

Jason Kuehnlein from Monroe, Michigan: Where do you get ideas for the names of characters, such as Ponyboy, Soda Pop, and M & M?

S E Hinton: I don't really know. I think it is an age when you would like to have an unusual name. It helps establish identity.

Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: Good evening, Ms. Hinton. I am curious to find out what type of setting you grew up in. Your books span so many different settings, from the urban surroundings in RUMBLE FISH to the country-boy setting in TEX. How do you accurately portray so many different locations? Did you do a lot of research for these books?

S E Hinton: Most of my settings were inspired by my life in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It's urban, but it is easy to find the rural. RUMBLE FISH is different. I was thinking a lot about mythology and purposely made time and place vague. Francis Coppola enlarged on this by telling the "Rumble Fish" cast it was set two years in the future!

David James from Bangor University: For what reasons did you adopt the narrative structure that you have done?

S E Hinton: I like a first-person narrative because it gives you the structure of staying in character. And also it is emotionally involving. Why my alter ego is a 15-year-old boy, I don't know.

Mrs Jenson's sixth-grade class from Portland, Oregon: Hello, Ms. Hinton. We would like to tell you how much we are enjoying your book. The questions we have are, 1) Do you feel that young people need books like THE OUTSIDERS in today's world, and 2) Would you ever bring Pony Boy back as an adult in a new novel? Thank you!

S E Hinton: 1) I get the same kind of letters that I got 30 years ago; kids still identify with the emotions and problems. It's still good to see that someone else feels that way. 2) No. I can remember what it is like to be 16, but I am not 16.

Jason Kuehnlein from Monroe, Michigan: How long did it take to write THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW? I am reading it in class now.

S E Hinton: I wrote THAT WAS THEN in approximately four months, two pages a day. I had writer's block for four years after THE OUTSIDERS. That was the way I got over it.

Audrey from Miami, FL: Hi, S. E. Hinton!!! I practically devoured THE OUTSIDERS. It was so awesome...I would like to become a famous author one day....Who and/or what inspired you to write THE OUTSIDERS? :)

S E Hinton: Three things inspired me: 1) I love to write. I had been writing since grade school. 2) I was mad about the social situation in my high school, where everyone got in their little group and was afraid of the other groups. 3) I wanted something to read! At that time, there wasn't any realistic fiction about teenagers. I wanted to read something that dealt with what I saw kids really doing.

Charla from California: Growing up I loved your books, but I always wondered why you chose male protagonists. Also, have you ever written a book centering around a female (outcast)?

S E Hinton: I was a tomboy and most of my close friends were boys. Female society was very rigid at the time, and I felt that if I said a girl was doing this, nobody would believe it. Basically, I find it easy to write from a male point of view. I always take the easy way. I have written a book, THE PUPPY SISTER, which is told from a female puppy's point of view. In one book I changed gender, genre, and species!

Therese from Hinsdale, Illinois: Dear Ms. Hinton, I am nine years old and I just finished reading THE PUPPY SISTER and I really liked it. I wanted to know how you got the idea for that book. Thank you. P.S. My 13-year-old sister Christine also likes your books a lot.

S E Hinton: It was based on the true story of how I brought a puppy home to be a sibling for my son, an only child. They fought a lot, like real siblings. One day, Nick, my son, said, "I think Aleasha is wondering when she is going to turn into a real kid like me." That was my inspiration. P.S. Aleasha really did turn herself into a member of the family.

Kaaron Warren from Australia: Thank you for showing me, all those years ago, that a 15-year-old girl could be a writer. Did the line "When I walked out into the bright sunlight" come first, or was the circular nature of THE OUTSIDERS, beginning and ending the same way, a later thought?

S E Hinton: The first line was always the same. The circular nature was not original with me, but when I got to the end of the book it seemed the right way to end it. The first draft was very much like the published edition.

Joel Heller from Knoxville, TN: I am in a play version of your novel THE OUTSIDERS. I play Two-Bit. I really like the role and the story. If you somehow could, we would be deeply honored if you would attend a performance. It is December 10-12 at Farragut Middle School. Also, an email to would be very much appreciated. Thanks! Joel Heller aka Two-Bit Matthews.

S E Hinton: Joel, thanks very much for the invitation, but I can't make it. Break a leg!

Chris from Orange Co. Community College: What kinds of censorship incidents have you had to face over the years, especially with THE OUTSIDERS?

S E Hinton: THE OUTSIDERS has been banned at different times and at different places. Teachers tell me that when a parent complains, they ask them to read the book themselves. Afterwards, there are no complaints. I have had a lot of kids write me and say that "after reading your books I realize how stupid violence is." I never have anyone write and say they were inspired to go and beat somebody up.

Joseph Perkins, age 14 from Charlotte, NC: I was wondering if you keep in touch with any of the actors who starred in the movie of THE OUTSIDERS. So many of them went on to become big stars, and they owe a lot to you and your story for giving them a start. Thank you.

S E Hinton: I hear from some of the actors once in a while. I was very good friends with all of them. I feel that I should thank them. Not only were they very good actors, they were good kids. And a pleasure to work with. And while I would like to see any of them again, who I really miss are my brave goofy teens, and I will never see them again.

Maria Hanrahan from Oak Creek, WI: Matt Dillon starred in the film adaptations of three of your novels. Did you have any part in that? What do you think of his portrayal of your characters?

S E Hinton: I worked on the three movies that Matt was in. I recommended him to Francis Coppola for Dallas, but he would not have been cast if Francis hadn't felt he was right for the role. I think Matt did a great job of seperating each character that he played. Nobody would mistake Tex for Rusty James.

Jessica from Connecticut: What was it like to meet Rob Lowe, who played Sodapop Curtis in the movie "The Outsiders"? Do you like the idea of your books being made into movies?

S E Hinton: Rob was sweet and incredibly good-looking. Books and movies are two different things. The fun thing about movies is the collaboration. The fun thing about books is you rule the world.

Jesse from California: Last year I read THE OUTSIDERS, and I loved it. I was so interested that I decided to do a research project on you. One of the things I found out was that you did not get good grades in high school writing, despite having great writing skills. Is this true, and if so why did this happen?

S E Hinton: I was no straight-A student. If I liked something I did well, if not, not. Basically, a goof-off, I guess. I had mostly great English teachers, who were very encouraging. The year I wrote THE OUTSIDERS I made a D in creative writing. I found out something interesting: Publishers don't count off for spelling and neatness.

Elizabeth Granta from Las Palomas, CA: I would like to know the names of your dogs, which you are holding in the photo above. How many dogs do you have?

S E Hinton: That is an old photo. The Keeshond was named Bowser, the poodle Mop, the pug, Pug. My creativity ends in my books! All dogs go to heaven. I now have an Aussie shepherd, who is the heroine of my latest book, THE PUPPY SISTER. Also, two cats, and three horses.

Kevin Buch from Naperville IL: When did you write THE OUTSIDERS?

S E Hinton: I began THE OUTSIDERS in 1964 and did most of the work in 1965. It was sold in 1966 and published the next year. Fast!

Nick Strevel from Trenton, Michigan: Will TAMING THE STAR RUNNER be made into a movie?

S E Hinton: I don't know, you need to ask a studio! (I have a screenplay.)

Cindy from Orland Park: I worked extensively on THE OUTSIDERS during an MA program at St. Xavier University in Chicago. I really enjoyed it. Having finished the degree, I have no idea what to do with a series of children's books that I have written. Any ideas?

S E Hinton: WRITER'S MARKET, a book, and Writer's Digest, a magazine, have a lot of practical tips on getting published. Good Luck!

Veronica, a mother from Pittsburgh, PA: Ms. Hinton, when did you let it be known that you were a woman? I know you were initially worried because you feared males would not read your books if they knew a female wrote the male characters. What changed your opinion? Thank you!

S E Hinton: Actually, the initials were my publisher's idea. They didn't want the first reviewers to read it with a bias. Afterwards it wasn't any big secret. (The reviewers were fooled.) I know I am convincing as a male narrator because I still get letters from boys addressed to Mr. Hinton.

Maria from Oak Creek, WI: When I was in middle and high school, you were my favorite author, without a doubt. Who were your favorite authors when you were a young adult, and what kinds of books/what authors are on your reading list these days?

S E Hinton: I loved horse books. I read Will James, the cowboy books, a lot. Some of my favorites: Shirley Jackson, Mary Renault, are still on my top five. Nowadays, I love Jane Austen (and did before she was cool), Fitzgerald, and I read alot of nonfiction.

Stephen Markle from Toronto, Canada: Which of the film adaptations did you enjoy the most? Any you didn't like?

S E Hinton: I think both "Tex" and "Rumble Fish," in their very different ways, capture the spirit of each book. I was disappointed in the editing of "The Outsiders," because we shot the whole book. We will never put that cast together, again! And I expected that Hollywood couldn't take the strong ending of "That Was Then." However, it had some good parts in it.

Justin from Illinios: Hello Ms. Hinton. I really enjoy your books! I just have one question to ask you. It is: What book that you have written was your favorite? Thanks. Have a nice Christmas!

S E Hinton: TEX is my favorite. I really have to become my narrator, and Tex was a good person to be. He is the least tough, but strongest of my narrators. It was nice to have that generous heart.

Marian Floyd from Tennessee: Why haven't you written more books, or are you working on something now? My students love your work.

S E Hinton: Besides being a writer, I'm a wife, a mom, a friend, a pretty good horseback rider. To use the phrase, "I've got a life." I really just like to write when I feel I have something to say.

George, age 13 from New Mexico: Hi, I have read all of your books. I'm wondering what other authors are like you that I can read next? I loved TEX. George.

S E Hinton: You might try Gary Paulsen. He does really good nature books, but suspenseful.

Therese from Hinsdale, Illinois: Three more questions please. 1. How many books have you written? 2. How old were you when your first book was published? 3.(from my Mom) Do you think today's teens have a more difficult time with gangs, etc. than when you were a teen? Thank you again.

S E Hinton: 1) I have written five young-adult novels, one picture book, and a middle grade book. I've worked on six screenplays, and one TV series, and a couple of commercials. 2) I was 18 when THE OUTSIDERS was published. 3) Yes. I think drugs and gangs are a bigger problem. Being a teen is problem enough.

Bobby Killjoy from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: How has your son dealt with the fact that you are such a famous writer for his age group?

S E Hinton: Nick is not too impressed with his old mom. He had to read THE OUTSIDERS in English class, last year. His comment to me was "It's not bad, Mom, but you're no Tolkien."

Stephen Markle from Toronto, Canada: Were you a rebel as a child?

S E Hinton: Not so much a rebel as perceptive. I always seemed to see why people were doing things as well as what they were doing. I've always been a watcher. Still, a lot of times, what people do seems silly to me.

Mark from Newark, DE: Do you think having started writing at such a young age hindered you from writing at such a pace for a longer period of time?

S E Hinton: I was very focused when I was young. I have more interests now, but I feel writing about what I did at the time I did gives (especially THE OUTSIDERS) my work its immediacy.

Hugh from Raleigh, NC: Have you been back to your old school since the days of THE OUTSIDERS? Do you advise any schools? Is there still a distinct segregation of social groups?

S E Hinton: Not really. As far as the groups go, the names change, the uniforms change, the groups go on forever.

Seth from Syosset, NY: Do you ever wish you didn't write THE OUTSIDERS because of all the publicity that it has garnered and the attention it focused on you as such a young adult?

S E Hinton: I am very happy I wrote THE OUTSIDERS. A lot of kids who thought they didn't like to read learned that they did like to read. I'd never change that. THE OUTSIDERS wasn't an overnight success; it built slowly over the years. I can still live a private life.

Moderator: Thank you again for spending an hour with us tonight, Ms. Hinton. And thank you to all who participated. Ms. Hinton, any final remarks before we close?

S E Hinton: Thanks for all your great questions. To those of you who want to write, read read read! And the rest of you, the same.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2003

    Best Book Ever

    I thought this was a great book. There was alot of action in it. I liked it because it is something that I have almost experienced in a sense. I really recamend this book for middle school readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2003

    The Greatest!!!!!!!

    I recently read this book at school and I have to say that I love it! I thought I was going to sleep my way through it, but I was wide awake!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2002

    Yea, Sure...

    Sure, this book was good, i am a grade 8 student and we are doing a Report on it. Sure its good, but just not what i like... All you 8th grade 13 year olds out there like me should pick up a good book like something from Stephen King... If you liked the Outsiders then you'll love anything by Stephen King.. i have been reading his books since i was in Grade5... One bad thing about this book at least, and that it is the fact that they dont mention what the characters are saying when they swear, which is pointless in my opinion, because all 8th graders have heard em all before by the time they r in grade 8 eh?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2002


    The Outsiders is the best book I have ever read. On a scale of 1-10 its an 18. I have never cried so much while reading a book and the characters have never seemed so real. I actually felt like I could go out and meet the characters and I felt like I was right there with them in all of the action. If you have not read this book.... READ IT! you'll be so gald you did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2002

    It's THE best book i've ever read

    The Outsiders made me really think about how hard things get and that when you think you have it hard to take a look at what others have...this book made me do that and it made me think about how people treat other people just because they are different...this book teaches not only to look at things but it teaches not to hate. I liked this book very much and i think that there is something in it everyone could learn something from. Read is the best book i've ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2001

    This is an awsome book!

    ~*~I really loved this book! I have read it 4 times already. I am in grade 8 and I am reading this for my English class. I was the first one to finish it. It's one of those books that is just impossible to put down! It is the best book I have read in all my life! I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!The movie was okay, But the book was excellent! The movie skipped alot of the good parts. I think that S.E. Hinton did a really great job on this book, I loved it! It's filled with tension and drama. If I could put more than five stars on there, I would put one million! This book caught my attention from the first chapter! I couldn't put it down! Usually with books, I just get bored after the first chapter, I'm one of those people who rarely finish a book if the first chapter is boring.~*~

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