Just over fifty years ago, in 1967, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders became the first YA novel to hit shelves. Its earnest, emotional tone resonated deeply with teenagers… probably because its author was one. At fifteen years old, S.E. Hinton didn’t want to read another book about proms (which, to be fair, tend to have all the emotional depth of the punch bowl). She wanted to write about the socioeconomic divisions she saw altering the lives of her classmates—a phenomenon no one would address. After her friend was jumped on the way home from the movies, Hinton began writing a story about her friend’s beating. But she realized it was more than that.
The manuscript editors would eventually see was Hinton’s third draft of the novel. In the end, they hardly changed any of her writing, making only minor suggestions (example: ‘maybe if Dally whips out a gun, he should have had a gun prior to this scene’). Thus, Hinton’s voice remained earnest and open in a way only a teenager can be.
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Hinton’s novel set the precedent for YA fiction, a genre which continues to break conventions and share marginalized voices. The Outsiders is an empathetic and heartfelt novel that encourages people to see beyond their differences (or, more specifically, to see that inequality is the REAL enemy). It also probably made you wish you owned a leather jacket—which you should—and a switchblade—which you probably shouldn’t.
Check out these ten quotes, and remind yourself to stay gold!
1. “They grew up on the outside of society. They weren’t looking for a fight. They were looking to belong.”
2. “Can you see the sunset real good on the West side? You can see it on the East side too.”
3. “Get smart and nothing can touch you.”
4. “I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”
5. “Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn. Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot. But all the wrong sights, not the things you want to see.”
6. “That’s why people don’t ever think to blame the Socs and are always ready to jump on us. We look hoody and they look decent. It could be just the other way around – half of the hoods I know are pretty decent guys underneath all that grease, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of Socs are just cold-blooded mean – but people usually go by looks.”
7. “They used to be buddies, I thought. They used to be friends, and now they hate each other because one has to work for a living and the other comes from the West Side.”
8. “You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want. There’s still lots of good in the world.”
9. “If we don’t have each other, we don’t have anything.”
10. “Stay gold Ponyboy. Stay gold.”
Featured Image Via Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.