The Outsiders


Introduction and History

Introduction and Background

The book was written after S. E. Hinton, 15 years old at the time, experienced a fight between one of her friends, a greaser, and the opposing group, the Socs (short for Socials or Socialites, and pronounced "SO-shes") ( Deeply stirred, she wrote the book on the spot, polished it during her university years, and had it published when she was 18 by Viking Press, who acquired it for $1000. The publishers used her initials as pseudonym so that adolescent males would find it more readable and persuasive, and so that male reviewers would not dismiss it (Smith, 2005).

The book became controversial due to its portrayal of gang violence, obscene language, drinking, and underage smoking, and some of that controversy persists today. In fact, The Outsiders ranked 38th on the American Library Association's Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999 (ALA; n.d.) and has been banned from some schools and libraries due to its slightly controversial character. Nonetheless, the novel has succeeded in becoming one of the most highly rated books for young adults and is used in most high schools throughout the country.

The Outsiders has remained Hinton's most popular book due to its resonance with youth of all ages. Reminiscent of a particular age (the 1960s), the novel transcends that age and speaks to adolescents of all generations, and particularly to those of minority groups who might "identify with the greasers" (Smith, 2005).

In 1979, Hinton won a best novel citation from The New York Times, and in 1998, she won the Eric Leatherberry Award. Furthermore, Hinton was the first recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, presented by the Young Adult Library Services Association (a division of the American Library Association). In 1997, Hinton received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for The Outsiders, and in 1998, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame at the Oklahoma Center for Poets...

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