The Outsiders

Stay Gold, Ponyboy: Historical Models of Childhood in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders College

S.E. Hinton’s seminal first novel, The Outsiders, is widely credited as the birth of contemporary teenage fiction. While J.D. Salinger is often seen as the first writer to truly capture the modern teenage mindset sixteen years earlier (albeit in a work aimed towards adult readers) with his legendary novel The Catcher in the Rye, it was Hinton, a tomboyish high-school student from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who took the teenage voice and presented it in a manner that was even more palpable, visceral, and lifelike, than even the spoiled, whiny Holden Caulfield could ever imitate. She achieves this voice through her characters. Hinton’s greasers are rowdy, downtrodden, and more than a little flawed; they embody a youthful vigor and a powerful sense of poignant world-weariness unheard of in children’s literature before Hinton’s time. And yet, whether it was intentional or through a lack of writing experience, Hinton’s characters, despite their overwhelming modernity, fit squarely into archetypes that had been prevalent in literary reconstructions of childhood for the past several centuries. My goal is to determine how the characters of The Outsiders fit into these traditional historic models of childhood and also how Hinton utilizes these...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 861 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6522 literature essays, 1773 sample college application essays, 268 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in