The Outsiders is a short novel written by a boy at the age of 17. His name is S. E. Hinton.
He has based this book upon the life of a fourteen-year old boy, Ponyboy, living with his two older brothers, Darrel and Sodapop. Ponyboy is the one telling the story which is actually based on a short period of the young author’s life.
The brothers Pony, Darry and Soda live in their diseased parents’ apartment. Sodapop is 17 years old and the one Pony has always loved above anybody else all his life. Even above his mother and father who died in a car crash 8 months before. Sodapop is actually his real name (so is ponyboy’s). Ponyboy describes Soda as “handsome like a superstar”. People often turn and watch him when he passes them on the street. His sensitive face can both be reckless and thoughtful at the same time. Only God knows how. He never drinks, he doesn’t have to, he says, he gets “drunk” on life. Something else about him that makes Ponyboy love him is the way he understands everybody.
Darry is 20 years old, and after their parents passed away, he has had the responsibility for his younger brothers. He works too hard and yells a lot at Pony when he does things wrong. That makes the relationship between them quite tense. And the fact that Ponyboy is convinced that Darry doesn’t love him doesn’t make it any better.
Darry looks older than 20, he is muscular and broad shouldered. If it hadn’t been for his cool, icy eyes he would have been quite handsome.
The opening leads us right into the middle of action when Pony is on his way home from the cinema. He enjoys watching movies on his own, because then he can really get into the actors and feel what they feel. Anyway, on his way home he starts to think about other ways he could have chosen to get home. He could have just called Two-Bits to come give him a ride, or made somebody else come walk with him. He remembers the time Johnny got jumped by the socs. How beaten up he had been. Just as he thinks about it, he sees a red Corvair shadowing him. Only two blocks from home the car pulls up and five socs come out. They surround him and Ponyboy gets really scared. They get him down to the ground, hit him and threaten him with a blade. Then he goes crazy of the fact that they actually can kill him. He shouts for Soda and Darry and after a short while he hears footsteps and shouting. The socs get into the car and drive away. The next thing Pony experience is his older brother, Darry, shaking him and the gang coming over to check that everything’s ok.
The gang, considering both Pony and his two brothers as three out of the seven ordinary members, was always sticking up for each other. The other members were Two-Bit Matthew, Steve Randle, Dallas Winston and Johnny Cade.
Two-Bit Matthews’ real name was Keith, but even the teachers forgot it, and the gang sometimes even forgot he had a real name. They just called him Two-Bit. He was the oldest one in the gang, and had always a funny remark coming up.
Steve Randle was Soda’s best bud ever since Junior high. He was a real car enthusiast. And was really good at it too. He knew cars upside down, inside out and worked at the same filling station as Soda. We never knew if the reason why they had the most customers was Steve’s good work or Soda’s great look, which was quite popular among the girls. Steve never really liked Pony and thought he was just a tagalong. The feeling was mutual though, except the tagalong-part. Ponyboy only liked Steve cause he was a friend of Soda.
Dallas Winston, also known as Dally, had spent three years on the wrong side of New York, and arrested at the early age of ten. Pony didn’t really like him, but you just had to respect him. A boy that, on the contrary, looked up and liked Dally was Johnny Cade, a.k.a. Johnnycake. He was the pet of the gang. He was always wandering around with that nervous, suspicious look in his eyes. His father kept beating him up and his mother ignored him, except when she was yelling at him. Then Pony and his brothers could hear it from their apartment.
This whole gang was greasers.
The greasers were the types of youth that came from the poor part of the city. The reason why the name greasers occurred was the amount of hair-grease and oil used in their hair to look cool. They almost never bothered to get a haircut, cause the way the most of them wore their hair made them look tough. And that was good. They got into a lot of fighting and were not always being on the right side of the law. The enemies for all of the greasers were the socs.
The socs came from, contrary to the greasers, the wealthy part of the city. Rich parents with reckless kids just looking for some entertainment in their otherwise dull existence. They drove fancy cars and wore madras shirts.
The main plot of this book is the continuous fight between the socs and the greasers. And everybody’s “happy” about that until one night.
Ponyboy comes home way too late because he and Johnny had fallen asleep outside.
Earlier they had been with Two-Bit in the cinema where they accidentally met two socs-girls, one of them called Cherry. They had left their boyfriends that night because they had been drinking. It appeared later that their boyfriends were the same as the ones who jumped Johnnycake earlier.
Later in the evening they met the boyfriends who wanted their girls back. The socs got mad, but they didn’t get into a fight. So Pony and Johnny went to the waste ground while Two-Bit went somewhere else to get drunk.
So, when Ponyboy comes home, Darry is very upset. He and Pony start yelling at each other, and it ends with Darry hitting him in the face.
Nobody in his family had ever hit Ponyboy before, so he gets shocked and afraid and runs out the door, over to where he knows Johnny’s still sitting. He ignores his brothers’ cries for him. He just wants to get away. When he finds Johnny he, at first, wants to run away, but after running down a few blocks they’re both pretty tired and sit down for a cigarette in the park. Then they suddenly discover a blue Mustang. And they already knew it was the socs, the same socs as the ones who had jumped Johnny. Pony sees it in Johnny’s face.
Five socs comes over to Pony and Johnny who stands by the fountain. One of the socs took hold of Pony and shoved his face into the water. He struggles but can’t get up. The next thing he knows is sitting on the ground coughing up water and eying a body lying there in a puddle of blood. Johnny had killed the one who was holding Pony down in the water. Johnny had killed him.
With quite some help from Dally they managed to escape out into the country on a train. They lived in an old church, cutting their hair off so nobody should be able to recognize them. The time spent in that old church made them even closer to each other. After about five days Dally came for a visit and told them he’d told the police that he thought they had gone heading for Texas (the opposite direction). He had also brought a letter to Ponyboy from Soda where he said he missed him and that Darry was deeply sorry.
Then they went for some food. While they were eating Dally told them about Cherry, the soc-girl. She had come to Dally telling him that she would testify in Ponyboy and Johnny’s favor if they turned themselves in. After all, Johnny had just been defending Pony from being killed. So on their ride back to the church, Johnnycake decided to turn himself in.
But when they came back to the church it was on fire! When they came even closer they eyed some people standing next to it. They were told that there were some kids inside, who couldn’t get out. Johnny and Ponyboy jumped in right away and saved the children. Pony got out of the church and passed out while Dally saved Johnny out of the flames.
The next thing he knew was waking up in an ambulance on his way to the hospital. When he got there he was notified about the serious damage Johnny had got during the fire. He himself had only got a mild concussion and some burns. Both he, Johnnycake and Dally had, from saving those kids, got a hero-stamp by the newspapers. But things weren’t looking too good for Johnny. A piece of timber had fallen on his back, and he suffered from serious burns and problems breathing. The only reason why the gang was allowed to even see him was that Two-Bit had pulled a blade on the doctor telling him to let us in, or somebody would get even more hurt.