The Outsiders, written by a 15-year-old S.E Hinton is an enticing and compelling Bildungsroman telling the story of 14-year-old, Ponyboy Curtis’ life along with his gang in the 60s, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The gang goes through a tough journey together being known as Juvenile delinquents and greasers along with facing the soc’s, stereotyping, grief and the life of being an outsider. Hinton draws you into her novel “The Outsiders” by using key themes such as stereotypes and gang culture. These themes are worth acknowledging as they are relatable and captivating to the reader. With the novel being published over 50 years ago, the themes are still relevant to our society today. We’ve all encountered stereotyping with or without noticing. Gang culture may not be as relevant today, but the topic stays intriguing.
Stereotypes are negative to society because they are not always reality. People don’t always act the way they are portrayed. In the text, the greasers are stereotyped as Juvenile Delinquents, lower class and show too much emotion. The socs, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. This is shown in the text through dialogue in the quote said by johnny “there’s gotta be someplace without greasers or soc’s, just people.” Johnny says this because he wants there to be a place where people aren’t pressured, portrayed and stereotyped. This makes the reader feel empathetic towards the greasers, the author uses that empathy to give the reader an understanding that being stereotyped isn’t always positive and has a negative effect on society and our wellbeing. This is further analyzed back to the theme of the outsiders that the “bad people” are portrayed unfairly and are the complete opposite of inadequate.
Being in a gang, its like family, you have each other’s backs, just like the greaser gang. The lifestyle of the greaser gang is that they’re affectionate towards each other without having to show it. The members always looking out for one another. Throughout the novel its shown that the gang is always keeping an eye out for each other. An example of gang culture is portrayed through the use first-person narration said by Dallas ‘You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do. When you’re a gang, you stick up for the members.” This shows the reader that the greasers will go to great lengths to protect each other and protect their friends. The author creates suspense to suspect just how far they will go protect each other. The audience relates to the characters by feeling the same affection towards their friends. The theme draws us into the world of the outsiders and tells us that gangs are not just gangs but family.
Hinton drew you into the world of “The Outsiders” by including her key themes, stereotypes and gang culture. These themes gave important messages to the reader and made us think about our lives as an outsider.