The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel and the first book written by S.E. Hinton, published in 1967. Hinton was only 17 years old when she started writing the book, and had it published when she was 18. In 1983, a film adaptation of the novel was released, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Ponyboy, a young member of a small gang of Greasers, is leaving a movie theater when a group of Socs jumps him. His gang, including his older brothers Darry (who is the de facto leader of the gang) and Sodapop, saves him. The next night, Ponyboy and his friends Dally and Johnny meet Cherry Valance and Marcia at a drive-in movie theatre. Ponyboy realizes that Cherry is nothing like the Socs he has met before. The Greasers walk Cherry and Marcia home, and Socs Bob Sheldon and Randy Adderson see them and think the boys are trying to pick up their girlfriends. Cherry and Marcia prevent a fight by leaving with Bob and Randy willingly. When Ponyboy comes home very late, Darry gets angry and hits him. Ponyboy runs away and meets up with Johnny. As they wander around the neighborhood, Bob, Randy, and three other drunk Socs confront them. After the Socs nearly drowns Ponyboy in a fountain, a terrified Johnny stabs Bob, accidentally killing him, causing the other Socs to flee. Ponyboy and Johnny find Dally, who gives them money and a loaded gun and tells them to hide in an abandoned church. They stay there for a few days, during which time Ponyboy reads Gone with the Wind to Johnny and recites the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost.
When Dally comes to get them, he reveals that the fights between the rival groups have exploded in intensity since Bob's death. Johnny decides to turn himself in (against Dally's advice), but the boys then notice that the church has caught on fire and several children are trapped inside. When Johnny and Ponyboy rush to rescue them, burning timber from the church's roof falls on Johnny, breaking his back. Dally rescues Johnny. Ponyboy is relatively unscathed and spends a short time in the hospital. When his brothers arrive to see him, Darry breaks down and cries. Ponyboy then realizes that Darry cares about him, and is only hard on Ponyboy because he wants him to have a good future.
Two-Bit informs Ponyboy that he and Johnny have been declared heroes for rescuing the kids, but Johnny will be charged with manslaughter for Bob's death. He also says that the Greasers and Socs have agreed to settle their conflict with a major rumble in a vacant lot. The Greasers heroically win the fight, and after the rumble, Dally and Ponyboy visit Johnny and see him die, his last words being "Stay gold, Ponyboy... stay gold...". Dally, overcome with grief, rushes out of the hospital and robs a store. When he points his empty gun at the police, they shoot and kill him just as the gang gets to the scene. Ponyboy faints and stays sick and delirious for nearly a week. While recovering, he tries to convince himself that Johnny is not dead and that he is the one who killed Bob.
When Ponyboy goes back to school, his grades drop. Although he is failing English, his teacher says he will pass him if he writes a decent theme. In the copy of Gone with the Wind that Johnny gave him before dying, Ponyboy finds a note from Johnny describing how he will die proudly after saving the kids from the fire. Johnny also urges Ponyboy to "stay gold". Ponyboy decides to write his English assignment about the recent events, and begins with the first line of the novel: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home...".
- Ponyboy Curtis: The youngest Curtis brother and the narrator of the story. He is fourteen-years-old, and lives with his two brothers on lower class side of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Sodapop Curtis: The middle Curtis brother whom Ponyboy has a close relationship with. And Is aka Ponyboy's best friend. He is sixteen-years-old, and is a high school dropout working full-time at a DX Gas Station with his best friend Steve.
- Darrel Curtis: The eldest Curtis brother and unofficial leader of the gang. He is twenty-years-old, and works two jobs in order to support his younger brothers. His and Ponyboy's relationship is strained initially, but the two reconcile their differences by the end of the novel.
- Dallas Winston: The most ruthless of the gang members. He is seventeen-years-old, and arrived in Tulsa from New York some time ago.
- Johnny Cade: The most quiet and law-abiding of the gang. He is sixteen-years-old, and has a close relationship with Ponyboy. He comes from an abusive family is described as being the gang's 'pet'.
- Two-Bit Mathews: The wisecracker of the group. He is eighteen-years-old and frequently steals from nearby department stores.
- Steve Randle: Sodapop's best friend who works part-time at the DX Gas Station with him. He considers Ponyboy a 'tag-along' to the gang and does not particularly like him.
- Cherry Valance: A pretty cheerleader at Ponyboy's school who befriends him and Johnny at the drive-in one night. She is sweet and disagrees with the social-class situation.
- Marcia: Cherry's best friend who is with Cherry at the drive-in. She is likewise not hostile to Ponyboy or Johnny, and gets along well with Two-Bit.
- Robert Sheldon: Cherry's alcoholic boyfriend who dislikes greasers. His poor decision-making one night begins the plot of the novel, and serves as a catalyst for a series of events that would forever change the lives of everyone involved.
- Randy Adderson: Marcia's boyfriend and Robert's best friend. He is initially hostile to the greasers, but eventually reconsiders his thoughts and decides to stop fighting altogether.
- Paul Holden: A soc that Darry used to be friends with in high school. The two fight each other at the beginning of the rumble.
- David: The boy that nearly drowns Ponyboy in the fountain.
- Tim Shepard: Leader of the Shepard Gang and a close friend of Dallas, though the two often quarrel. He and his gang assist the greasers in the rumble.
- Curly Shepard: Tim's younger brother who is serving time in jail during the rumble. He and Ponyboy are mentioned as being friends.
- Sandy: Sodapop's girlfriend at the beginning of the novel, whom he plans on marrying. Sandy leaves Sodapop after cheating on him, and moves to Florida.
- Sylvia: Dallas' on-again-off-again girlfriend. Dallas claims he is done with her for real at the beginning of the novel, after she cheats on him while he's in jail.
- Buck Merril: Dallas' rodeo partner who is very wild. He is described as a dangerous cowboy.
- Jerry Wood: The overweight man at the church fire in Windrixville. He stays with Ponyboy on his way to the Tulsa hospital.
- Mr. Syme: Ponyboy's English teacher who is considerate of his student's lives.
|Novels: The Outsiders (1967) - That Was Then, This Is Now (1971) - Rumble Fish (1975) - Tex (1979) - Taming the Star Runner (1988)|