“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton (1967)
You don’t have to read too far into “The Outsiders” to question which group, the Greasers or the Socials (Socs), fits the title of this book written by a teenage girl. The story takes place in the sixties in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Darry Curtis, age 20, Soda, (16) and Ponyboy (14) lost their parents in a car accident eight months ago. Darry, a promising athlete, dropped out of school to work and care for his brothers. If they didn’t stay out of trouble they could be removed and placed in foster care.
Darry is strict and rarely smiles. Soda is happy-go-lucky and always smiling. Pony shadows Soda and tries to stay out of Darry’s way not understanding the responsibilities he has in becoming the parent in the family. Soda dropped out of school and works at a gas station. Pony goes to school most of the time and has a passion for books and movies.
The Curtis brothers and their friends are Greasers on account of their hair, clothes and impoverished lifestyle. They live in a rough part of town where the houses are neglected and the police patrol regularly. The uptown teens are the Socs. Their rivalry with the Greasers is constant and often leads to fights. The last rumble resulted in an unexpected consequence that affected the whole town.
Pony narrates the story and comments on the similarities between the rival groups as he explores his own place in the world. An incident with two girls from the Socs opens his eyes to a “basic sameness” between the groups. Pony thought it was “money that separated us.” Cherry enlightened him: “It’s not just money . . .You greasers have a different set of values. You’re more emotional. We’re sophisticated –cool to the point of not feeling anything.” Pony’s philosophy was that some of us watch the same sunset.
Made into a motion picture, “The Outsiders” starred the following in their early careers: Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Leif Garrett, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell.