Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This would be the other book that Yoonjin-san lent me. It was written a fairly long time ago, and deals with growing up on the wrong-side of town. And for some reason, this book reminded me a lot of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle ( henceforth known as Paddy Clark and which incidentally, is an excellent book you should read).

The Outsiders is narrated by Ponyboy (no, that's his real name), who is a "greaser" on the East Side of town (the poor side). They're constantly at war with the "socs" (socials - the rich kids from the West Side of town) and one day, the war is taken to a new dimension when Johnny, his friend, kills a socs while trying to save his life.

I suppose the reason why this book reminds me of Paddy Clarke is because of the cruelty of childhood in the book. While Ponyboy, at 14, is older than Paddy, and definitely in a much more cruel world, the interactions between Ponyboy and his friends and the socs remind me of how Kevin (and friends) treated the new kids. In fact, if I were to draw a connection, I would say that this book might be Paddy Clarke a few years from now (but I would place Paddy and friends as the socs).

The language style of this book is quite easy to follow. There's quite a bit of slang, but it doesn't reach the proportions of Paddy Clarke and it's written in more or less proper grammer. In short, it reads like a story more than as a insight into Ponyboy's mind. It's kind of like an autobiography (the style anyway), so all the advantages and disadvantages of the first-person narrator come into play here. In fact, in the ending, there's a hintvery-obvious-clue-bordering-on-telling-the-reader that this might be something that Ponyboy wrote (as part of something for school). And since I've already started comparing this book to Paddy Clarke, I might as well add that the narrative style in Paddy Clarke is much more similar to the thought process of a 10 year old boy, although not a stream-of-consciousness. Personally, for these kind of books, I would prefer the style of Paddy Clarke, although it's harder to understand and even harder to write.

Another important part of the book would be the characters. Ponyboy and his brothers (Darry and Sodapop) don't have a perfect relationship, but how they interact with each other fits perfectly with their characters. But more interestingly, how they view themselves is interesting. At times, they seem to flaunt their status as a greaser, with all its negative connotations. For me at least, that was a rather unexpected idea to encounter.

Basically, this is another really great book. I wish that this was one of the books I studied in IB. It would have been fun to do a comparison essay for The Outsiders and Paddy Clarke.

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