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The Outsiders

S. E. Hinton

Chapters 1–2

Summary Chapters 1–2

Hinton suggests that male-female friendships are the friendships most likely to result in peace between the groups. In the first half of the novel, all encounters between male greasers and male Socs result in violence, whereas encounters between male greasers and female Socs sometimes end in laughter and flirtation. This difference suggests that gang rivalry stems from male hatred of other males. Conversely, the strongly masculine nature of the rivalry means that internal group bonding is also strongly masculine. Female greasers essentially do not exist in this novel; they are discussed, but they never appear as characters. Their absence emphasizes the intense male bonding among the greasers.

In the Young Adult fiction genre, The Outsiders is unique in its early suggestion that the rival groups are not that different from each other. By establishing this commonality at the beginning, Hinton throws us off balance. That Hinton raises the possibility of resolution between gangs so early but delays resolution for so long keeps the focus on the individual issues that Ponyboy and others face.