My seventh grade daughter was assigned to read this book a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to re-read it with her. The first time I read this book, I was in seventh grade too, but it made much more of an impression on me as an adult. The Outsiders tells the story of two groups of teenagers: the Greasers and the Socs. I thought it was interesting that the distinguishing factor between these two groups seems to be money. A conversation between Ponyboy and Bob Shelton illustrates this. Bob tells Ponyboy that a greaser is “white trash with long, greasy hair.” Ponyboy then tells Bob that a Soc is “white trash with mustangs and madras.” I thought it was interesting that in both cases, their possessions are what set them apart. I liked how Ponyboy discovers throughout the book that if you took those possessions away, that underneath it all, they are all just kids trying to deal what life has thrown at them. They see the same sunsets, read the same books, and have the same emotions.
I loved the literary references throughout the book. Ponyboy makes many text to world comparisons with Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind, and “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. Literature gave Ponyboy something to connect with, and in some cases helped him to come to terms with his life. Literature has done the same for me! Ponboy's friend Johnny showed amazing perception when he saw Ponyboy as gold, or innocent. I loved the quote, “Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's Gold. Keep it that way, it's a good way to be. And don't be bugged over being a greaser. You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There's still a lot of good in the world.” Ponyboy learned a valuable lesson that the group you belong to doesn’t define who you are.
This is a great book for anyone, young and old, who wants to get a glimpse of life in the 60s. It is also a timeless tale that teaches no matter what your circumstances are, you still have a choice in how you live your life and who you eventually become.
Content: Some language and violence