Did you know that at Dutchess Day School the eighth graders read a book that is on the banned, censored, and challenged book list? The Outsiders by SE. Hinton has been banned in some schools for gang violence, slang, bad language, smoking underage, and drinking underage. The Outsiders is a fictitious novel about a fourteen-year—old named Ponyboy who has grown up in a gang. Throughout the book, Ponyboy fights. smokes. and talks about his friends drinking underage. I believe that The Outsiders is appropriate for all middle and high schoolers because teenagers will learn and grow from reading about the experiences that Ponyboy goes through in his life.
The Outsiders discourages adolescents from fighting for many reasons. The first is that Ponyboy and Johnny, the two main characters, are good role models. Ponyboy is a respectful, smart, and motivated teenager.
His best friend. Johnny, is a sensitive and thoughtful boy who is compared to the gallant southern gentlemen in Gone with the Wind.
in the Outsiders, there are two social classes in the neighborhood. There are the socs and the greasers. The socs are the rich, preppy kids who are entitled and would never be blamed for anything bad in the neighborhood. The greasers are the poor kids that have often grown up in dysfunctional families, and they take the fall for anything bad in the neighborhood. One night Johnny and Ponyboy are in the park when a blue mustang shows up. In blue mustang, there is a soc, Bob Sheldon.
He and his buddies had gotten drunk that night and they were looking for a fight. They began to attack Johnny and Pony. Out of self-defense, Johnny was forced to kill Bob. Although it was not his fault that the fight began, Johnny was worried that he would be sent to prison, So, Johnny and Pony ran away to a Church in Windrixville.
They stayed there for about a week and one morning Pony and Johnny were looking at the view when Pony remembers a poem by Robert Frost called Nothing Gold Can Stay which Johnny takes into deep consideration, The next day some children are playing in the church when it catches fire. Pony and Johnny run to save the children’s lives and they are successful. but Johnny is seriously injured, When Johnny is in the hospital about to die, he wrote Ponyboy a letter which represents the innocence and kindness that we must strive to keep. Johhny wrote, “he meant you’re gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid everything’s new, dawn. lt’sjust when you get used to everything that it’s day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That’s gold. Keep that way, it‘s a good way to be.” (Hinton 13) Johnny is referring to Robert Frost’s poem Nothing Gold Can Stay which Johnny decides represents youth and innocence. He wants Pony to keep his youthfulness, Pony appreciates the things that most people forget about like sunsets and movies. Johnny wishes he had the same thoughtfulness and innocence, and he wants that for Dally, an older member of the greasers who is considered tough and cannot be hurt, too.
Middle and high school students will fall in love with Pony. Johnny, and their caring personalities At the end of the book, Ponyboy addresses why people fight. He asks his friends and brothers why they light. They tell him for conformity, pride, self-defense, exercise, and action. Ponyboy asks because he does not have a reason to fight. He thinks it is silly that he and the greasers are known for being tough and having greasy hair, The cycle of violence is also a topic in the Outsiders. Violence has driven people to act scared, violent, and tough. The cycle for Johnny started when he was jumped. He began to carry a switchblade around which was out of character for him, Then, Johnny used his switched blade to kill Bob in a tight. Having been beaten and scared, Johnny was unwilling to be attacked again. This cycle then leads to Ponyboy acting tough and threatening people in an uncharacteristic way. The cycle of violence threatens the innocence of adolescents in the neighborhood. Violence is often addressed as a problem in The Outsiders, but it is never promoted as a solution to your problems.
Fighting is one of the issues brought up in The Outsiders. but substance abuse is another big reason why this book is banned, but I believe that it is extremely important for adolescents to discuss substance abuse. AWashington Post article states, “Exploring complex topics such as sexuality, violence, substance abuse, suicide and racism through well-drawn characters lets kids contemplate morality and Vast aspects of the human condition, build empathy for people unlike themselves and possibly discover a mirror of their own experience” (Washington post) Reading a book like the Outsiders will help adolescents mature and explore situations that they may face someday though a character in a book, Teenagers will discover the consequences of smoking and drinking without harming themselves by reading the Outsiders. A review of the novel says, “The Outsiders is gritty, honest and authentic, and a novel that I feel every teenager needs to read” (the guardian). You cannot have an authentic or gritty novel without including the realities of adolescent life without proper parental figures. Ponyboy smokes, but he regrets it.
Pony often talks about his lungs aching, his athleticism declining, and his susceptibility to illness. When Ponyboy and Johnny are staying in the church in Windrixville Pony gets sicker by the day. His lungs cramp in the cold air and the more he smokes the worse it gets. A few weeks later, Ponyboy tries to run with his brothers and it is much harder for him and he is slower than he used to be. This is blamed on his smoking as well. One of the things that made Ponyboy the happiest was track. He was very fast and strong before, but he has smoked so much that he doubts that he will make the team in the spring. Smoking affects Ponyboy’s health directly, but alcohol abuse is still a prominent issue in his gang and neighborhood. Ponyboy does not drink, but many teenagers in his neighborhood and school do. An example of this is when Cherry and Marcia leave their boyfriends to sit with Pony and Johnny at the drive-in theatre because their boyfriends brought alcohol and they planned to get drunk.
It shows how unattractive it is to get wasted, especially underage, Another example of alcohol misuse is when Pony and Johnny get jumped in the park by Socs, and the Socs are drunk. They come off as rude, violent, and scary. Teenagers will easily understand the negative effects of drinking when reading The Outsiders. Adolescents will be more receptive to a book that shows teenagers their age who are struggling with the bad effects of drinking and smoking than an ad, textbook, or adult telling them not to, Parents may be legitimately concerned with the smoking. drinking, and fighting that are brought up in The Outsiders, but I do not think they need to be because books are a great way for adolescents to learn about substance abuse and violence while remaining in a safe space.
Parents re, “claiming that their children are being exposed to things they aren’t prepared for and insist schools pull it from their curriculums; some also say it promotes ‘unchristian values’ and site its lack of adult role models.” (world.edu) I believe that adolescents are old enough to recognize how violence and substance abuse are frequently discouraged in The Outsiders. And teenagers should be mature enough to handle the unromantic realities of the world, There are gangs, people smoke, and people drink. These are facts of life that adolescents are old enough to know and read about. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is a beautifully dramatic book that deals with the unsatisfactory realities of life while reaching out to adolescents around the world in a relatable and beneficial way.