Iconic Coming-of-Age Stories: The Outsiders

Growing up, we all had those books we either were forced to read in elementary school or those books that we’d heard about on our own and decided to take a chance on. There’s always those books from that time that stick with us. They’re the iconic stories that each child growing up should read before Junior High or High School.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is definitely one of the most iconic stories ever written. This book not only introduced the category juvenile fiction, but was on the American Library Association’s Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999, and is still considered a controversial book. The Outsiders has been banned from many schools and many libraries because of its portrayal of gang violence, underage smoking and drinking, strong language, and its family dysfunction. However, many schools today require the book to be read for middle and high school grades.

The Outsiders

The book was first published in 1967 when the author was 18 years old. She first started the novel when she was 15. The story introduces gang violence with two rival groups called the Greasers and the Socs (Short for Socials). It’s the typical wrong side of the tracks story.

The story is told in first person by Ponyboy Curtis. Ponyboy is a member of the gang Greasers and is leaving the movie theater when the Socs jump in. His two older brothers, Darrell (Darry) and Sodapop, as well as several other members of their gang rescue him. Afterward, we’re introduced to Dallas (Dally) Winston and Johnny, two iconic characters within the book. One night while they are fighting the Socs, his friend Johnny kills one. The murder ends up crumbling and teaching Ponyboy that pain feels the same.

This is a story that has stayed with me and grown with me and I believe that every high school student should have to read this book. When I become a teacher, it’ll definitely be required!