I’ve seen that quote so many times, but never had any idea what it related to!
So ... according to Ponyboy, there are two types of people: Socs (the rich kids) and the greasers (those on the outside). Ponyboy, his brothers and their gang are greasers. They hate the socs and fight them regularly until one night when a boy is killed. Suddenly Ponyboy’s world is crumbling on its foundations.
It’s weird to think that The Outsiders was written in the sixties. The issues it addresses - loyalty, friendship, social inequality - are timeless and the writing style is as fresh today as it would have been back then. Okay, we don’t have mods and rockers any more, but the characters and situations are still so relevant. There’s a reason this is a classic!
The writing is heartfelt without being cheesy and the characters are so real it’s like they’re stepping off the page. And the bizarre names! Every YA book worth its salt these days has oddly-named protagonists, so it’s easy to see where this trend started.
The similarities between the socs and the greasers went deeper than their superficial differences. I think this book was a statement not only about social inequality, but also about how it doesn’t matter what your background is, adolescence is a challenging time.
I read somewhere that Susan Hinton wrote this book when she was sixteen. Sixteen! I could barely find my arse with both hands when I was sixteen, let alone write a groundbreaking book. Because this book was groundbreaking. The only other YA fiction around in the sixties showed teenagers as gee-whiz, whiter-than-white, with no discernible sexual appetite and Susan Hinton completely carved a new path with The Outsiders by showing relatable characters in real-life situations.
This book may not be my favourite read of the year, but it should be lauded for ushering in a whole new genre of books. It’s doubtful that YA fiction would be the genre it is today if it was not for The Outsiders.