The Outsiders Lesson 10: Movies, Motives, and Mindfulness

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10928

What is a hero? Writers write about heroes, but did you ever think of a writer as a hero? S.E. Hinton broke ground in writing The Outsiders. Tie together what you've learned from Pony and the others!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Is this what comes to mind when you think of the word "hero"?

What really constitutes a hero?

Look up the word "hero" in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and copy the definition that best fits your understanding in your reading journal.

Can using a talent — such as writing — to make a statement about social issues make a person a hero? Discuss this with your parent or teacher.

S.E. Hinton took writing to a new level when she wrote The Outsiders at the age of 15. This was the first time in contemporary literature when real teen issues were being addressed, but did the book contribute to any solutions? Take a moment to watch the first five minutes of this biography, S. E. Hinton Biography, Part 1 of 2:


  • According to the video, why did Hinton write the novel?
  • What were some of the controversies over the novel when it was published?
  • Why do you think parents didn't want their children reading about the very issues many of them were living every day?

Read "S. E. Hinton and the Y. A. Debate," published in The New Yorker magazine. We see there is controversy today over who should read the book, but there is still a sense that many still don't get the gist, or meaning, behind the book.

Look over this interview from The Outsiders Fan Club on

Do you see S. E. Hinton as a hero for bringing these topics to light?

Take some time to answer the following questions in your reading journal, based on three major themes from the novel. Answer each question as thoughtfully and honestly as possible:

  1. Identity
    1. How do our interactions with others form our perception of identity?
    2. Why do stereotypes exist? How do we break them down — or is it even necessary to break them down?
    3. What is the value in recognizing stereotyping, both in our lives and in the text?
    4. How will our experiences with these terms build our identity?
  2. Social Justice and Empathy
    1. How do our choices affect the challenges in our lives?
    2. Why are other people's challenges harder to see than our own?
    3. How do we help others? How do we help ourselves?
    4. What is the value of recognizing and confronting the challenges in our lives?
    5. How do our own experiences help us build empathy for others?
  3. Family Relationships and Dynamics
    1. What is a family?
    2. What is the value of creating family around us?
    3. How do our experiences with family affect our lives?

To what extent, if any, did the novel help you understand these themes?

Now, take a moment to think about how you honestly feel after having read the novel. Would you recommend this novel to a friend or family member? Why or why not?

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