Critical Essay by Steven L. VanderStaay
SOURCE: "Doing Theory: Words about Words about The Outsiders," in English Journal, Vol. 81, No. 7, November, 1992, pp. 57-61.
In the following excerpt, VanderStaay, a high-school English teacher, outlines his application of literary theory to The Outsiders as assigned reading in his classroom, explaining how he teaches his students how to formulate their own ideas and ways of thinking.
I had little use for critical theory until I met up with S. E. Hinton—or, rather, until I read The Outsiders (1967) with students. Since most of them knew the story (either through their own reading or the movie), my challenge was to find a way of using the book that enriched their enjoyment and appreciation, rather than simply repeating it.
Which is half of the story. The other half is that I had grown dissatisfied with the perfunctory ("since...