It is often said that modern children, unlike other generations, are too cruel, but few remember that conflict and malice are not new problems. Such an order of life was always. Poor children do not tolerate conceited pests from rich families, and secured snobs cannot stand ragamuffins who do not have a cent in their pockets. The famous writer Susan Hinton created an amazing story in the spirit of Salinger and Burgess about the class struggle, the complex process of growing up, the prejudices and hardships of living in an uneasy capitalist society.
About the Author
The novel was written in 1965, and since then it was considered an important asset of the American literary tradition. The novel embodies faith in the miraculous American dream that any beggar turns into a king. So, in fact, happened with Susan Hinton - she wrote her most famous thing at the age of 16 and almost instantly earned her fame as a teenage prophet and rising star of American literature. Despite the fact that most of the hopes placed on Hinton did not materialize (the continuation of the career turned out to be extremely floppy), The Outsiders remained among the most significant works of art of the 60s.
Events take place in a small town in Oklahoma, in the 60s. Two gangs of teenagers, greasers, and Socs, confront each other in a long-standing conflict. The first rule of greasers is that one does not walk one at a time; the second is not to be caught. And always protect your friends, no matter what they do.14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis is sure: rich children, golden youth from the western part of the city, never understand the guys from poor neighborhoods on the east side. And only one terrible night, one skirmish with a hostile grouping is changing everything. Ponyboy is forced to run, to escape from the vicious circle of the long-standing conflict and to look at himself and the world from the side, whose prisoner he inadvertently became.
However, this is the case when judging by retelling is not worth it. This is a very youthful, very uneven book with a very weak plot. But there is something in it that cannot be present in books that are much more adult and perfect. It is the same angry, lively, vibrating energy that Kurt Cobain sang about in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that flows from this novel. This teen spirit, the spirit of a rebellious youth, 100% natural, without additives and flavors, with a large margin, pays for all the shortcomings of the book. If you are not yet twenty, you will simply find out yourself in this book and most likely will feel pretty much. If you have completely said goodbye to hormonal imbalance, total disappointment, self-doubt and anger to the whole world, you will also recognize yourself from the past.
What Is this Book About
The Outsiders, if to drop all the accompanying book fact (for example, the book was included in the school program of some states and banned in the neighboring states), is very sad and delicate novel. It is talking about child loneliness in the adult world and a presentiment of major disappointments. He is about love with a girl, a small homeland, friends, which can not incarnate because of the above-stated axiom: in order to survive, one must hate someone. He is about a little man, about a small man in the truest sense of the word. He does not need much to be happy, but he is not given this either. In the face of hardship and sorrows, he will seek a foothold, or at least a roof, under which it will be possible to wait for the impending rainfall.
This book does not talk about what, in the opinion of adults, it is interesting and useful for teenagers to know, but about what unthinkable and unbearable hell can flare up inside a single fourteen-year-old. Written with fury and tenderness, combined in the proportion in which they can live together only in the child's soul, this book is worth reading not only by the fans of the young adult genre but by everyone who loves and knows how to appreciate the printed word. The most precious thing here is that perhaps it is a fragile, sometimes timid, somewhere frankly clumsy, but infinitely live voice of the narrator, a unique author's handwriting.
Subtleties of the Plot and Hidden Meanings
The novellas begin with the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his orphaned brothers in a small American town on the outskirts of Oklahoma, where time seems to have frozen in place. The inhabitants are divided into two camps: the poor, forced to make a living by hard work, and a prosperous middle class. The main characters belong to the teenage gang, with whom the representatives of the golden youth are fighting. Nobody talks about the reasons for this enmity, it is a given, and the reader, along with the characters, is symbolically included in the scenery of the school theater, which performs "Romeo and Juliet." This feeling is strengthened because of the language, overly simplistic, almost completely devoid of means of artistic expressiveness.
Ponyboy tells about the family, about friends, about the school, about the war with the opposition gang, about gaining and losing. Social belonging initially completely determines the heroes, forcing them to remain in a clearly delineated framework. It seems that there is no way to escape from the city and remake oneself because there is no room for transformation. The hero, who refused to study, realizes that his whole life will be connected with cars and girls because nothing else is available to him. The children of wealthy parents appearing on the pages of the novel become hostages of their way of life and parental expectations. Each carries within himself some prescribed code that determines future words and actions. This allows the reader to identify heroes as tragic, unable to change their feelings and beliefs and perishing because of this. It is very important to understand that the tragedy using catharsis almost completely disappears from the literature of the 20th century, especially from the American tradition, and the appeal of the schoolgirl Susan Hinton to it looks unusual.
The author continues to play the recognizable moves of Shakespeare, replacing the rose with a sunset, which is the same everywhere - from one side of the river, and from the other. All the intersection points existing between the two groups lie precisely in the plane of absolute truths: nature, childhood, friendship, love. These are the feelings that are not determined by a bank account, fashionable clothes, and education. The best of the characters (Johnny, Randy, Cherry, and Ponyboy) are changing rapidly in the pages of the novel: they do a lot of things, moving along the way of growing up, and each of them sacrifices something to find himself, to become a human and a person.
The world depicted in the book does not lose realism: the actions of the characters will not change society, the eternal wall between rich and poor will not collapse, class differences will not disappear. The hostility that exists between the Montague and the Capulets ends on the bodies of the fallen lovers. The confrontation between the two groups does not stop, but Hinton gives the heroes the opportunity to get out of the limited world of cruelty and create something different.