Ponyboy Curtis, 14, has always been a ‘greaser’, a label given to the boys from the East Side who put grease in their hair. He has two older brothers, Darry and Soda who are always on the lookout for him. Darry is only 20 but is already working hard to provide for his younger siblings after their parents died in an accident. Ponyboy is much closer to Soda, a 16-year-old school dropout who works at the gas station.
The greasers usually get bullied and sometimes attacked by another group called the Socs (Socials) – ‘the West-side rich kids’ as what Ponyboy calls them. One day, Ponyboy finds himself surrounded by the Socs but was rescued by his gang. He was lucky this time because his friend, Johnny, had been jumped by the Socs who beat the life out of him. Johnny has become a much more nervous person since the incident.
That’s the life that Ponyboy knows. He is a good student at school and is on his way to become a track star. But he is a ‘greaser’ who cannot get along with the Socs. There is the difference between the two groups in terms of class, society and lifestyle. Ponyboy usually hangs out with his brothers or close friends such as Johnny, Two-Bit Matthews, Steve and Dally.
However, something unexpected happens when Ponyboy and Johnny come face to face with a group of Socs in which one of them had beaten up Johnny before. The group was not happy that their girlfriends had preferred the company of the greasers during an outing to the movies. They then confronted the two young boys not knowing what happens next – an occurance which will spark many changes after that.
I have always wanted to read The Outsiders because I know it won awards and was listed as one of the highly recommended books for young adults. Moreover, I was impressed that the author, S.E. Hinton, began writing the book when she was only 15 years old.
The important themes in the story are on the different social classes and stereotyping. We also read about friendship and family values as well as the sacrifices that the characters are willing to make for one another. For example Darry skipping college to instead work at two jobs to make sure his younger brothers, especially Ponyboy, are well taken care of.
This is an honest book that will give readers an unforgettable insight into the trials and tribulations of the characters. I also liked the way the book ended.
Oh, I will be sure to watch the 1983 movie version which starred C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio and Diane Lane.