Buddy Reads

The Outsiders: A Reading Buddy Discussion

Hello friends! Today I’m going to be posting something a little different. Over the past month I participated in my first ever buddy read with Jenna @Bookmark Your Thoughts. I had such a lovely time doing this, I look forward to more buddy reads in the future!

The book we decided to buddy read was The Outsiders by: S.E. Hinton. I hope to have a review of the book up in the coming weeks… if I can get around to really getting my thoughts down! But for now here is our discussion, Q & A of the book:

1. Imagine that you were a character in the book. Would you be associated with the Greasers or the Socs? Why?

Me: Well, while reading I didn’t really associate which I’d be, probably because I don’t really associate with either a greaser or a socs. But upon further reflection, wow that sounded so scholarly, I think that if I was a character in the book I’d be Cherry because she doesn’t really feel like she fits in with the socs nor does she fit in with the greasers, but she’s not afraid of the greasers but at the same time she knows that the socs can be too much and she doesn’t like that about them. It seems she just wants to be friends with everyone. That’s me, social castes don’t matter, if you’re going to be nice to me and want to be friends with me, then I’ll reciprocate, is honestly as simple as that.

Jenna: Growing up, I would’ve actually been more associated with the Greasers. Not to get too into my personal life, but I actually grew up in the more lower income and higher crime area. Funny enough, we did have quite a bit of standoffs with the “rich kids”. Now? I think neither. I still have that connection with my friends from when I was young, but I’m in a better situation financially and demographically. But I’m also not a Soc … someone who tends to flaunt what they have and doesn’t have that “internal instinct” to know when you’ve gone too far … since they don’t really have any consequences for their actions.

I think that’s why I loved this book so much growing up … I felt like an author for once understood the life my friends and I lived. People say this books overly dramatic, but this stuff happens … I think that’s what makes it so powerful.

2. Who is the narrator of The Outsiders? What point of view is it told in? What effect do you think this has on the story?

Me: The narrator is a young boy by the name of Ponyboy. This story is told in the point of view of Ponyboy and is told in first person. The effect that it has on the story is it really lets the reader understand the story and really get inside Ponyboy’s head, to understand where he’s coming from, to learn about his world. Ponyboy is a character who seems to be quite levelheaded and reading from that perspective you get a sense of all the characters in a more unbiased light. The reader can always see that there are two sides and his POV really shows that.

Jenna: Well, it’s good ol’ Ponyboy Curtis (and that’s his actual name) and it’s told in first person narrative. I think seeing the story through Ponyboy’s eyes makes everything more emotional and real. We also see how much he transforms from the beginning to end, how his opinions on Greasers and Socs changes … how everything isn’t as black and white as people make it out to be. Reading from Ponyboy’s POV also makes things more memorable for me, since he’s one of the first characters I really resonated with in literature. He’s very empathetic, has a love of reading and is a big dreamer — very different from everyone else in his group of friends and other characters in general mentioned in the book.

3. Do you think it is obvious that this novel was written when the author was only sixteen years old?

Me: While I read this book I couldn’t believe that Hinton was 16 when she wrote this novel. I don’t think it’s obvious because some of the themes and the life lessons and the realizations that Ponyboy learns, I didn’t learn until I was older than 16. To see him realizing the way Darry acted towards him and was so hard on him just meant that he really cared about him and loved him. When I was a teenager, especially at 14, that wouldn’t have been my first thought, mine was always, they hate me, but that’s my true dramatic fashion.

Jenna: Yes and no? When I first read this, I was rather shocked. But now, it kind of makes sense. What’s interesting though is it’s as though Hinton DELIBERATELY wrote the novel to reflect the mindset of a 14 going on 15 year old teenager, while maintaining appropriate grammar and a professional writing style throughout the novella. I think that’s another reason why this books so HIGHLY regarded … Hinton has a way with words and writing, drawing readers in. I think Hinton being around the same age as the characters when she wrote The Outsiders also made it easier to write this way … fruit for thought.

4. This is a commonly used book in schools at a fairly early age. Do you think assigning a book with such heavy contents is a good idea for the younger demographic? Why?

Me: Seeing as Ponyboy was what, 13-14 in this novel I can see why it’s assigned at such a young age. Young readers can read from a perspective that is close to their own age, they can find it relatable in different ways. I think, as much as this novel deals with a lot of loss, it’s a novel that really deals with love too. I think it teaches a lot of lessons that the reader can take away.

I know I read this book in school when I was 13, and of you asked me what I thought of it then, honestly I can’t remember. I know I enjoyed reading it, but I probably treated it as another school reading and didn’t give it the attention it demanded. I’m very glad we decided to do this buddy read!

Jenna: Probably biased, but I don’t see an issue. People want to constantly protect children from the BIG BAD WORLD … but you’re only hurting them. As they get older and have to face these atrocities, it makes it MUCH harder to compartmentalize with such horrors. But honestly, there are a large number of children and young adults who are exposed to this at a early age … whether parents and guardians want to digest that or not. So sharing a novel that these kids can relate to may show them that there’s still a chance to get out of the system, even if it seems slim. And for those who haven’t been exposed, it provides them the ability to empathize … maybe even moving them to try and make changes in their own lives.5. Which character(s) really sticks out for you? Do you resonate with any of them?

Me: Obviously Ponyboy sticks out to me, since he’s the main character, but Darry sticks out to me because I don’t remember him being such a loving brother, even when he got angry at Ponyboy, it was because he loved him and wanted more for him. He really resonates with me because I know what it’s like to want the absolute best for someone, and I thought it was really well written and well captured; the true and pure emotion of loving someone unconditionally.

Jenna: The one I resonate with to this day is Ponyboy. His love of sunsets and reading, his overwhelming emotions, his confusion of where he belongs … I felt that ALL when I first read this, and still feel that connection.

But funny enough, the two characters who stick out to me are Dally and Two-Bit. Dally’s the roughest of the lot, but his moments of compassion and inner turmoil really stuck out to me. He’s had a rough go, and I’ve seen that look of being lost in so many other eyes where I grew up. I always felt for him, wondering how his character might’ve changed if he had a different upbringing. Two-Bit is just hilarious! I adore his love of life and his caring nature. But what’s fascinating is how he’s very caring and funny, but can switch into the defence and fight mode in an instant.

6 thoughts on “The Outsiders: A Reading Buddy Discussion

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