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Start Talking! Discussion Questions on The Outsiders

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/20/2012

Get students talking and connecting to the characters with these thought provoking questions. Bring them closer to understanding the world portrayed in this powerful novel.

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    Let's Start a Discussion

    Johnny, Ponyboy, Soda Pop Darry, Cherry, Bob, Randy, and Dally have been gracing the pages of the Susan Eloise Hinton's young adult novel since the Outsiders was first published in 1967. Even though Hinton published it during her freshman year of college, this novel still made the 1990's American Library Association's list of "most frequently challenged books." It definitely gives students something to talk about in class.

    Students still can connect to the characters because they faced the same problems that teens today face. The characters attended a high school where there were the rich, elite students who picked on the poorer, less privileged ones.

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    Teen Connections to the Novel

    • In the 60's in Tulsa there were Greasers and Socs. Does your school have similar social groups? What are they called today and how are they similar? How are they different?
    • When thinking about gangs in school, are the Greasers and the Hoods different or similar? How and why?
    • Cherry loved Bob and helped Ponyboy's group. What do you think of her? Why? Would you do the same thing? Why?
    • Darry was raising Ponyboy and Sodapop because their parents were dead. Do you think this is right? Would the boys have been better off in foster care? Why?
    • Was it too much for Darry? Would he have gone to college if he did not have to care for Ponyboy?
    • Sodapop has quit school. What does this mean for his future? Why do you think he did it?
    • Should Johnny be punished for Bob's death when it was in self-defense? Why?
    • Were Johnny, Ponyboy and Dallas heroes of the fire incident even though the fire was probably started by one of their cigarettes? Why?
    • Randy is tired of fighting at the end. Could he have done things differently?
    • Dallas pulls a toy gun on the police in the end. Why? Do you think that Dallas could have lived a happy life without Johnny? Why?
    • Do you think Ponyboy will be okay in the end? Why? What do you think his future will hold?

    These questions can be used in whole group or small group situation. Let students discuss the novel and see that Hinton's characters are not so different than the students who attend their school.

Outsider Activites

These lessons focus on the Outsiders and offer ideas and activities to go along with the novel.
  1. Start Talking! Discussion Questions on The Outsiders
  2. Outsiders Time Period Activity--Pop Culture, History and Food