The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton demonstrates the value of family and true friendship as a rivalry amongst the Greasers and the Socs reaches a boiling point in this unforgettable coming-of-age journey.
Ponyboy, Sodapop, Dally, All Unforgettable
Ponyboy, Sodapop, Dally…these are just some of the names of the unique cast of characters that makes up The Outsiders. If you’ve ever read this timeless novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, then these names stick with you forever.
I have taught this book a couple of times and no matter the age, whether middle or high school, the school’s location, from rural to metropolitan, all students end up loving this book.
Outsiders of Society
It’s a classic tale of one side of the streets versus the other. The privileged vs the down-and-outs. The Greasers make up the kids who have had a rough life. They are the “outsiders” of society, who have formed their own group. They dress “tuff,” with slicked back hair and too-tight t-shirts. They carry switchblades and commit crimes. The Socs, or the Socials, wear madras shirts, drive expensive cars, and are always getting away with whatever crime they commit. Both of them have one basic need: to belong.
The Greasers are their own family in a way and so are the Socs. They support each other. Their friendships know no limits, not even the limit of killing someone to protect one of their own.
The Socs and the Greasers are young boys, with hard exteriors who fit into a mold that their society has made for them.
The Outsiders Discussion Ideas
This year, I am just now wrapping up teaching The Outsiders to my eighth graders. We have had many discussions on so many themes prevalent in the novel. Here are some that we have discussed:
- Identity and the Need to Belong
- Stereotypes of Cliques
- Limitations of Friendship
- Being Pigeonholed into One Group
- Appearances are Deceiving
- Does Belonging Contribute to Happiness?
I believe one of the reasons students end up cherishing this book so much has to deal with how they connect to the idea of groups and stereotypes. Every school has groups, whether it’s the athletes, the boarders, the academics….the list goes on and on. Every student feels like they may fit into one of those groups or a couple of those groups. There are some kids, however, who feel they may not fit in any of them. These kids can relate to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton as they may feel that they are an outsider themselves.
Each of these groups holds stereotypes that other groups think about them. For example, one group may believe the academic group always reads, studies, and wears glasses. Academics may believe the gamers only play video games and never study.
As a class, we discussed how some stereotypes can be true, and how some individuals can shatter the stereotypes of that group. We delved into how some people don’t fit into a mold of any of those groups and may feel alone. We talked about how to be friends with others, despite feeling different than them and having different interests.
I just love this book! It has so many layers to it that can offer up discussions for days and days!
Every time I teach this novel, we do a quick project. Sometimes, I’ve assigned it as a partner project and sometimes it’s done individually.
Nonetheless, this project is always a winner with my classes.
Students either create a group or choose a group that they feel they belong to. Some students like to morph individual groups into one for this project or completely create their own. Then, they delve into the various stereotypes of the group, what the group normally does together, what they wear, and what the group is known for.
Students then create a poster that displays this group. This year, due to hybrid learning, students created a “poster” using one Google Slide.
Once my eighth graders presented their groups, I learned about new cliques I had never heard of from The Hot Cheeto Girls to the Stock Market Gang. It was a chance for me to learn even more about my students’ interests and what bonds them together. There was even a Rob Lowe Fan group formed from showing my students the movie characters of the book! It was fun for both the students and myself.
We have made The Outsiders Google Slide project FREE for you. Just click!
If you’ve never taught The Outsiders or even read it, I highly recommend this novel. There are so many topics to discuss and activities to complete throughout the reading of this book. It will be a favorite among your students for years to come.