Marshmallow has been reading S. E. Hinton’s classic novel The Outsiders, first published in 1967. Today she shares some of her thoughts on the book with the blog readers. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, can you introduce us to this book?
Marshmallow: If you like books about belonging, growing up, and facing challenges as a young person, you might like this book.
S: That’s a good start. So now let us move into the book. Can you tell us a bit about the plot?
M: There are two gangs, or maybe groups of friends, who hang out and occasionally clash, sometimes pretty violently. They call these things rumbles, they are basically fights.
S: Okay, so two groups. Made up of young people, and our main characters belong to one or the other. What are the names of the two groups?
M: One of them is made up of richer kids and they are called the Soc, short for “social”. The other group has poorer kids in it, and they are called the greasers, because they put grease in their hair. Mostly boys but there are girls that hang out with one or the other group.
S: Okay, that gives us a good idea of the setting. So tell us now about what happens in the book.
M: The main character is this boy named Ponyboy. And that is his real name. And his middle brother’s name is Sodapop.
S: Those are some creative names!
M: I know, right? The oldest brother has a much more typical name, Darrel, but people call him Darry.
M: So these three boys’ parents are dead. And the oldest brother Darry is taking care of the younger ones. Ponyboy is the youngest of the greasers. The other greasers are Steve, Johnny, Dally, Two-Bit, and I think that is mainly it.
M: One day Ponyboy, Dally, and Johnny go to the movies and meet two Soc girls named Cherry and Marcia. Dally is rude to the girls, but Ponyboy and Johnny become closer to them. Then some Soc boys come and there is some trouble. Eventually, another day, there is a fight, and Johnny ends up killing one of the Soc boys while trying to save Ponyboy from getting hurt. So Johnny and Ponyboy run away and hide, with the help of Dally, who has gotten into trouble with the law before.
S: That sounds kind of big, killing someone. These are still only kids, aren’t they?
M: Well, they are more or less. Ponyboy is 14 and Johnny is 16.
S: Alright, then what happens?
M: Well, I cannot tell you everything, but there is a big fire, and the boys try to help save some children who have been trapped in the fire, so they become heroes of some sort, but Johnny still has killed someone, so he needs to be punished. But he is also pretty injured during the fire. So I will stop here because we are already talking about stuff way into the book.
S: Alright, that makes total sense. We already got the gist of the story I think.
S: So you began reading this book because your class is reading it at school, right?
M: Yep. We are still reading and discussing it in class.
S: We read it at school, too, I think, but it was many many years ago. I do not remember the story very well. I also did not remember the author’s name.
M: Well, she is using only initials. It is because she was very young when she wrote the book, and they thought a book by a young woman who is a total unknown would not sell. There is an interview with the author at the back of the copy of the book I read where she says this.
S: I did not remember that at all, but the Wikipedia article about the book says that she was only 15 when she started writing the story and was 18 when it was published. That is pretty young!
M: Yes, it is impressive.
S: And maybe that really was the right thing to do, because the book did get really famous and they made a movie of it, too.
M: I know! In fact we are going to watch it at school. Can we put the trailer of the movie here?
S: Sure. Here it is:
S: I remember that we did watch this movie in class too, and it was all very exciting. A lot of the actors became really famous after this.
M: I’m excited to watch it too.
S: So maybe we should slowly wrap this up. Before that, would you mind telling me what you thought of the characters?
M: I thought they were good. Ponyboy narrates the story, and you get to really empathize with him. He does smoke a lot though. Still he is very thoughtful and cares about people.
S: Anything else?
M: I thought the book did a good job of pointing towards social economic inequalities. The rich kids all also have problems with their families and such, but when the poor kids get into trouble, their lives get so much more difficult. And these kinds of differences make it harder for people to empathize with others. Ponyboy thinks that he and the greasers are all outsiders and nobody else, none of the Socs, can ever understand their lives. And he does have a point, I think.
S: But after some of the events of the book, he realizes that Socs are also human, according to the book description in one of the versions of the book.
M: Yes, I guess so. But the class differences still remain, and that is also there till the end. The consequences are so much tougher for the greasers.
S: Thank you for this review Marshmallow. I think I might want to revisit this book, or at least the movie! You always rate the books you review. So what would you rate this one?
M: I’d rate it 100%.
S: Sounds like it! Okay, and to wrap up, what do you want to tell our readers?
M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!