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Literary Qualities of The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

This Study Guide consists of approximately 111 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Outsiders.
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Literary Qualities

The Outsiders contains a complex symbolic structure within a straightforward plot. Hinton uses symbolism to express class and character differences.

For the greasers, long hair represents dignity and independence. Even the legal system recognizes some connection between hair and self-esteem, for as Johnny notes, the first thing a judge does when a greaser appears in court is to order a hair cut. The greasers' hair also symbolizes the group's lower social status: the word "greaser" refers to the way the young men fix their hair. It is a derogatory term, although the greasers have adopted it themselves.

On a broader symbolic scale, Hinton weaves archetypal images and situations into her story. Ponyboy and Johnny, for example, do not simply hide out in the country; they undergo a metamorphosis. Hinton carefully constructs their rites of passage to include the typical stages of this process. First, the boys are exiled...

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This section contains 543 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Outsiders Study Guide
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The Outsiders from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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