Changing perspectives on reading Classic Literature and other genres

Monday, February 10, 2014

Classic Literature, a review of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton




Courtesy of Goodreads
Ponyboy is a 14-year-old Oklahoma boy, who comes from a lower class home torn apart by a world of anger, pain, and misunderstanding. Hinton’s novel narrates the story of this boy and his family and friends through Ponyboy’s eyes. The story tells of the conflicts Ponyboy faces and sees within his community that is divided in two between the “Greasers”, the lower class juveniles from the West-Side, and the “Socs” who are the upper class juveniles form the East-Side. Throughout the story, Ponyboy must face the tumultuous nature of being a teenager in a world that re-labels them continuously, as can be seen when he and his friend Johnny are heroes one moment but face prison for murder in the next moment. Ponyboy’s story can show us that if being a teenager is tough, being made an “outsider” makes it even tougher. You are left continually asking yourself, “If it doesn’t change what they think of you, does it matter?”

This novel is a classic piece of literature, because it discusses a topic, at least when it was first published was not addressed, the treatment of teenagers. Making the protagonist Ponyboy a lower class greaser makes it even more potent a topic, because it also makes the reader see what it is to face being an “outsider” according to society. It is recommended that this book is better suited for the YA male aged 11-21. The book covers a multitude of topics concerning issues of aggression, abuse, emotional instability, and self-destruction. This age group faces such issues frequently. This is not to say female YA would not benefit from reading the book, because it addresses issues they face as well, but the audience Hinton is trying to reach seems to have a predominantly masculine core, rather than female. School and public libraries would benefit from having such a book on their shelves, as this novel still portrays events many YA face, places and names may be different but the content is relatable.

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