Junior Booklover Contest Winner Riley, age 13, from
"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay."
...recites Ponyboy Curtis, to his 16-year-old friend Johnny, as
they sit on the front steps of the abandoned church they are
temporarily calling home. "Robert Frost wrote it," he says to
Johnny, as the sun slides upward in front of them. "He meant more
to it than I'm getting', though." An amazing and touching tale of
friendship, and at the same time, a depiction of the pointlessness
of fighting and rivalry, The Outsiders tells the story of Ponyboy,
who is fourteen and the youngest of three brothers in a family with
no parents. His older brothers work hard to support their small,
yet surprisingly tightly-knit family. All three are Greasers,
living on the west (and poor) side of town, with their friends
Two-Bit, Steve, Johnny and Dallas. The Greasers are sworn enemies
of the east-end Socials, known as Socs. The Socs are, for the most
part, rich, and are known on the west side as nothing more than
white trash with Mustangs (the car).
Following a violent gang fight, Johnny and Ponyboy escape town.
Tragedy strikes twice as Johnny suffers a life-threatening injury,
further fuelling the Greasers' hatred of the Socs. The fierce
animosity between the two gangs in not sugar-coated, coming to a
conclusive showdown at the very end of the book. Because the
characters are incredibly real, one wonders whether the author (who
was sixteen when she wrote this story) was involved in or had
acquaintances caught up in gang wars not unlike the ones in The
The book is rich with symbolism, beginning with the bleaching and
cutting of Ponyboy's long, dark hair, of which he is extremely
proud. Then the poem, which Ponyboy recounts to Johnny as they sit
and watch the golden sun rise with its message of how life is
short. Finally, Johnny's parting words - "Stay gold, Ponyboy," -
imply more than one would think. Johnny wants Ponyboy to become
much more than his brothers are, to live his dreams, and be true to
himself. Those three words carry more than the entire contents of
almost every book I've ever read.
The Outsiders is my favourite novel of all time. It is moving and
thought provoking, and anyone between 13 and 16 won't be able to
set it down. If it is not already in your bookcase, it should be.
The 45th anniversary of a landmark work of teen fiction
Ponyboy can count on his brothers and his friends, but not on much
else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids who
get away with everything, including beating up greasers like
Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect--until the night someone
takes things too far.
Written forty-five years ago, S. E. Hinton''s classic story of a
boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains
as powerful today as it was the day it was written.
S. E. Hinton, the inaugural winner of the Margaret A. Edwards
Award, is one of the most popular and best-known writers of young
adult fiction. Her novels include That Was Then, This Is
Now, Some of Tim''s Stories and Rumble Fish.
She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband.
When it was first published in 1967, "The Outsiders" defied convention with its immediate, deeply sympathetic portrayal of Ponyboy and his struggle to find a place for himself in a difficult world.