The Outsiders is a coming of age story from the 1960s. It is told by the youngest member of a troubled but cute greaser group of true companions. It was written by S. E. Hinton, who was sixteen years old at the time.Ponyboy Curtis (yes, that's his real name) lives with his brothers Darrel and Sodapop (yes, it "even says so on his birth certificate"). Darrel (but everyone calls him Darry) is the leader of a gang of boys, all in various degrees of poverty and parental abandonment: Steve Randall, Sodapop's best friend; the nonstop joker Two-Bit (for once, not his real name); Dallas Winston, who served his first jail sentence when he was ten years old; and Johnny Cade, a quiet, sweet kid from an abusive home whom everybody protects like a puppy.The greasers' rival gang is the Socs (short for "Socials"; pronounced "Soashes"), rich "white trash with Mustangs and madras." Getting jumped and defending himself is a fact of life for Ponyboy, one made evident in the first pages of the book. The trouble really starts, however, when Johnny and Ponyboy pick up two girls from the Socs' side of the tracks (Cherry Valance and Marcia) at the movies. Cherry's boyfriend, Bob, and his friends come after them later in a nearby park, and Bob nearly drowns Ponyboy. Johnny comes to his rescue with a blade, and Ponyboy survives. Bob doesn't. Realizing there's no way greasers like themselves are going to get away with killing a Soc, even in self-defense, the boys run to their friend with the most experience in crime, Dallas. Dallas gives them some money and directions on where to run and hide (an abandoned church in Windrixville) until things die down.We won't give away the rest, but it involves more deaths, a fire, the ultimate gang rumble to end all rumbles, the pain and sorrow of love and friendship, a complete emotional and mental breakdown for Ponyboy, and a poem by Robert Frost.Unexpectedly, given the genre, it is very light on the angst. The greasers have it rough, but nobody's emo about it.Was followed by several sequels, of which Rumble Fish is the best known, and, of course, a rather faithful film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola (with some awesome music) in which Hinton herself was directly involved.The film got its own sequel in 1990, which also served as the pilot episode to a short-lived, little known TV series.Not to be confused with The Outsiders, a superhero team in The DCU, or the tag team of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Also not to be confused with The Stranger, whose title is often translated as The Outsider. Very different from H.P. Lovecraft's short story The Outsider.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cherry has stated that she better not see Dallas again or else she might fall in love with him.
Not to mention the fact that her boyfriend Bob isn't exactly a law-abiding first-rate citizen.
All-Star Cast: Zigzagged. The film stars Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Leif Garrett and Diane Lane. Almost none of them were stars at the time it was made, however. Of course, for many of them, this film is where that began to change.
Aloof Big Brother: Ponyboy feels that his oldest brother Darry is this, being the unofficial leader of their group and always criticizing Ponyboy. But Ponyboy eventually realizes that Darry actually cares very much for him and only wants the best for him.
Arc Words: "Stay gold." More specifcally "nothing gold can stay", the word for word quote from the poem that Ponyboy reads.
Big Bad: The Socs, probably the closest to being the main antagonists of the story.
Big Brother Instinct: The whole gang towards Johnny, since his family couldn't care less. Also Darry and Soda toward Ponyboy, though Darry shows his concern for his brother mostly by yelling at him when he does something stupid.
Book Ends: "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..."
Brick Joke: After Johnny stands up to Dally for harassing Cherry and Marcia, Dally decides to go out and blow off some steam. A few minutes later, Tim Shepperd comes into the movies looking for Dally, claiming Dally slashed his tires. After Johnny kills Bob, and Johnny and Pony are on the run, when they meet Dally again who was sleeping it off after his fight with Shepperd.
Bridal Carry: Darry carries Ponyboy into their house this way in the movie after getting home from the hospital from a fire rescue, all the while commenting on how he's getting too big to be carried.
Don't Split Us Up: This was the primary concern for Darry, who feared that if he was deemed an unfit guardian for his brothers, they would be taken away and put in foster care.
Dye or Die: Ponyboy had to cut and bleach his hair since descriptions of him were printed. He doesn't like it.
Dysfunction Junction: Almost all the greasers fit here. Ponyboy and his brothers lost their parents to a car accident. Steve has an abusive father. Both of Johnny's parents are abusive and don't care about him. Dally had a growing criminal record which started when he was ten and used to run with gangs in New York. So far, Two-Bit seems to be immune.
The Film of the Book: Almost entirely faithful to the original novel, with some great music. Hinton herself was actually the location scout; she even took out all of the non-dialogue parts of the novel to create the movie's script.
The greasers aren't so much a gang as a social class. Ponyboy says himself that they're mostly groups of friends who stick together. The same could be argued for the Socs, though some of them are said to belong to social clubs.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Johnny and Ponyboy go to Dally, he's at a party and says he was in the bedrooms. Ponyboy then starts blushing as he "remembers what usually happens in the bedrooms at Buck's parties." But Dally was just sleeping.
In the movie, when Dally is hitting on Cherry, he asks her in so many words if the carpet matches the drapes.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The lack of cursing generally isn't that conspicuous, but in the beginning of the book, when one of the Socs mugging Ponyboy, he says, "For Pete's sake!" This is justified in that Ponyboy is writing the book as a paper for school, and probably wouldn't be too keen on dropping f-bombs in something his teacher would be grading him on.
Steve: So where is Soda and Super-Dope (Darry) anyhow?
Darry: -just walking in— Superwhat?!
Ironic Echo: When Ponyboy comes back from the drive-in late, Darrel yells at him for saying that he didn't mean to. On the exact same page, after he hits Ponyboy, who runs away, he says, "I didn't mean to!"
Rare Guns: In the movie version, every gun the protagonists use is made by Smith & Wesson.
Reality Ensues: The church rescue, where Ponyboy and Johnny go in to save a group of kids before the church burns completely to the ground. It ends with Johnny sustaining a injury that would ultimately cost him his life. Even worse, before he died, Johnny said that he wouldn't have been able to walk again if he had survived.
The Un Favourite: Ponyboy feels that older brother Darry cares only for Sodapop and that he is only another mouth to feed. However, he is proven wrong and Darry was strict on Ponyboy because he wants the best for Ponyboy and for him to succeed in life.
Watching the Sunset: Both Cherry and Ponyboy do. He also watches a sunrise with Johnny, which was a stepping stone for him to appreciate life before the fire ruined that for him.
Weapon for Intimidation: Dally's revolver. It's not actually loaded, and he states that he uses it to scare people and that's all. This comes back to him when he raises the unloaded gun at the police after Johnny dies to get a suicide by cop.
Your Door Was Open: Justified, as at least two members of the gang frequently need a place to stay. When one character worries about the house being robbed, Darrel states that he would rather risk robbery than have one of the gang members go crazy and do something that earned them serious jail time. Besides, they have nothing to steal.