The Outsiders, Essential Revision Notes
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Table of Contents
Susan Eloise Hinton was born in the 1950s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a place that she describes as ‘a pleasant place to live if you don’t want to do anything’. She began The Outsiders at the age of fifteen, inspired by her frustration with the social divisions in her high school and the lack of realistic fiction for high school readers. The Outsiders, first published in 1967, tells the story of class conflict between the greasers, a group of low-class youths, and the Socs (short for Socials), a group of privileged rich kids who live on the wealthy West Side of town. The novel broke ground in the genre of Young Adult fiction, transcending established boundaries in its portrayal of violence, class conflict, and prejudice.
Hinton’s publishers decided that Hinton should publish her novel under the name S. E. Hinton in order to cloak her gender. They worried that readers would not respect The Outsiders, which features male protagonists and violent situations, if they knew a female wrote it. Hinton has said that she does not mind using an authorial name that is gender neutral.
The language and details of the novel root the story in the sixties. Characters call fights ‘rumbles’, and people listen to the Beatles and Elvis Presley. The novel is set in the Southwest, as evidenced by the fact that many greasers ride in local rodeos. Despite its location in a specific time and place, however, the novel is ...