This volume celebrates the 50th anniversary of Hinton's groundbreaking novel about teen aged "greasers" by exploring concepts of the Other, the portrait of Ponyboy Curtis as an artist, and The Outsiders as a postmodern work, among other topics. While the novel is often recognized for its maturation themes and its novelty as a young adult work, it also explores ideas such as free will versus determinism and the definition of heroism.
Each Critical Insights is divided into four sections:
The beginning of the book aims to looks at the title as a whole, including how it was received when it was first published, as well as its 40th and 50th anniversary. "About this Volume" and "On The Outsiders," written by the editor, M. Katherine Grimes, starts of this volume. These essays are followed by an historical background chapter.
The essays aim to provide a background to the title and author that is an historical, cultural, and biographical foundation for the reader.
These essays utilize common critical approaches to further analyze the author's work. This section starts off with an essay paralleling the narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, with other famous characters such as Huckleberry Finn (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain) and Stephen Daedelus (The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce). Another essay discusses the characters of The Outsiders and how they cope with hardships and relationships among brothers.
At one point, the reader gets information directly from the author herself, from interview excerpt, on the story behind The Outsiders, her descriptions of writing and publishing, her reasons for writing the novel, and her views on the book and the movie decades after they were both released. Readers will find more comparisons to S.E. Hinton's work to others, including poems by Robert Frost, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the various themes that occur between The Outsiders and the other works.
Each essay is 2,500-5,000 words in length and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
All of these speak to the importance of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders in helping to shape the psyches of American youth and young people from around the world, as well as the necessity for more mature readers to interpret the deeper themes of the novel.
- Chronology of S. E. Hinton’s Life
- Works by S. E. Hinton
- About the Editor