the outsiders read-along: chapter 1

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Welcome to The Outsiders read-along!  To be honest, I’m completely new to this, having never hosted a read-along before, so y’all will have to be patient with me.  And whether you’ve read and re-read The Outsiders several times (like me) or you’ve never, ever read it…welcome!  We’re going to have a lot of fun with this, I think. (But it will also probably break your heart, just to warn you.)

I’m planning on analyzing a chapter a week since the chapters are quite long and I have other things to do besides this read-along (as we all do).  I’ll try not to post spoilers for the book as a whole, but there will be spoilers for the individual chapters.  So if you’re new to The Outsiders, go ahead and read the first chapter before you come back to this post.

I’ll be using the 50th anniversary edition of the book (pictured above) throughout the read-along, so the page numbers I give might not always match up with whatever copy you use (unless you have the fiftieth anniversary edition as well!).  And be warned that this post will most likely be super long because it’s the first chapter and I have a lot to say.

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I honestly teared up reading the first line: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.  THIS WHOLE BOOK IS SO POWERFUL AND GOOD.

Anyway, with that first line we get introduced to the narrator/main character/most precious adorable smol cinnamon roll EVER, Ponyboy Curtis.  I rarely love main characters, but Ponyboy is one of the exceptions.  He’s simply the best, with his straightforward way of writing down what he thinks and how he loves books and sunsets and he cares so much about people.  He’s amazing.

So, Ponyboy is walking home from the movies (in the 1983 film adaption of the novel, which I recommend, the movie he goes to see is ‘The Hustler’ which makes sense, because Paul Newman) when he gets jumped by a bunch of rich guys.  Why?  He’s a greaser and the Socs (wealthy kids) hate greasers.  Luckily Ponyboy’s brothers and friends chase the Socs away and then they all come back and sit around and talk and that gives S.E. Hinton an excellent opportunity to describe everyone and bring their different characters out with dialogue and such.

Quick low-down on the gang:

  • Ponyboy – You know my opinion of him. 😉
  • Sodapop – Ponyboy’s brother.  AHHHHH.  The legit best.  Full of restlessness and laughter and unbelievably handsome.  And really understanding and cool.
  • Darry – Ponyboy’s brother.  Not going to give away spoilers, but there’s more to Darry than meets the eye.  Love him.  Can’t wait to turn twenty in September so we’ll be the same age.
  • Dally – Yeah, don’t get him and Darry confused like I did the first time I read the book.  They’re two completely different people.  Dally is dangerous and hates pretty much everything (with one notable exception that will break your heart later).
  • Steve – Doesn’t get much page time.  He’s best buddies with Soda and is really good at both stealing and fixing cars.  Ponyboy really doesn’t like him and he’s played by Tom Cruise in the movie.
  • Two-Bit – Hilarious guy who has some hidden depths.
  • JOHNNYCAKE – I can’t.  My heart is too full for words.  Just read: If you can picture a little dark puppy that has been kicked too many times and is lost in a crowd of strangers, you’ll have Johnny. (p. 11)  WAHHHH.

I made a few observations while reading through this chapter that I thought I’d share with you as well.  Okay, like how Ponyboy’s thinking about how he’d like to get to know “the girls who were bright-eyed and had their dresses a decent length and acted as if they’d like to spit on us if given the chance” (p. 15) and I’m happy to inform you that he does actually meet and start dating one of those in the sorta-sequel to The OutsidersThat was Then, This is Now.  Also, when Dally asks if anyone wants to come along to the Nightly Double next evening…NOOOO DON’T GO.  And Ponyboy is reading Great Expectations for school!  I love that book.

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Quotes I like:

And nobody in our gang digs books and movies the way I do. (p. 2)

I’m usually pretty quiet around people, even the gang. (p. 12)

I rubbed my cheek where it had turned purple.  I had looked in the mirror, and it did make me look tough.  But Darry had made me put a Band-Aid on the cut. (p. 16) [I don’t know why, but this part always makes me crack up, the way Darry just makes him put a Band-Aid on the cut when he’s wanting to look all tough.]

“You in love with Sandy?  What’s it like?”
“Hhhmmm.”  He sighed happily.  “It’s real nice.”
(p. 18)

I lie to myself all the time.  But I never believe me. (p. 18)

Discussion Questions!

~Which character do you like the best so far?

~Do you believe Ponyboy’s gripes about Darry?  Why or why not?

~Ponyboy says that he lies to himself all the time (p. 18).  Do you think this makes him an unreliable narrator?

Image result for the outsiders different covers

Feel free to answer – or ignore – these discussion questions. 🙂  I’d really like to know what you thought of this first chapter, though!  Drop a comment, ask a question, or just fangirl/boy a bit in the comments.  And until next time…

Stay gold.


P.S. Happy Canada Day!


11 thoughts on “the outsiders read-along: chapter 1

  1. I’m going to start reading The Outsiders today, and will come to read your first post later in the week. This is my first time to read it. I actually grew up in the Tulsa area, and that element definitely sparks my desire to read the novel. 🙂


  2. I love this book so much. Just… wow. So many favorite passages in this first chapter! I love how everyone gets introduced, and Hinton makes them all memorable right away.

    Which character do I like best? PonyboyDarryDallyJohnnySoda.

    Do I believe what Ponyboy says about Darry, no, cuz I’ve read the book before. That goes with your second question. I don’t see Ponyboy as an unreliable narrator — he’s very self-aware and honest about himself and his perceptions of those around him. BUT his perceptions are not always totally accurate, as we (and he) eventually come to understand. He tells us the truth AS HE SEES IT. But he’s only 14, and he doesn’t understand everything and everybody yet. If he did, he wouldn’t be a believable character.


    1. Yep, I love the introductions too. Gives you a really good grasp on each character right away.

      Hey! That’s my favorite character as well! 😀

      When I first read the book, I totally didn’t believe what Ponyboy said about Darry either, which made the scene in the hospital Not A Surprise At All (but still emotional). And, yep, I don’t think Ponyboy is an unreliable narrator, inasmuch as he doesn’t lie. But he’s unreliable in that his point of view isn’t always accurate, like you said.


      1. I’m trying to remember what I thought when I first read this — I was probably 15 or so, and I think I believed Ponyboy at first, but later saw that Darry was not actually unloving and mean. I don’t remember anymore tho.


  3. I’m back after reading the first chapter. 🙂

    Didn’t know that there is a sequel… thanks for that bit! I might be interested in that book too.

    I’m glad you had this one in your favorite quotes… I thought it was hilarious…
    “I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.”

    Now, I can’t say yet if this makes Ponyboy an unreliable narrator… so far, I think he just likes to say something silly or a little far-fetched just to see how it sounds, but you can tell underneath some of his comments that it may or may not be exactly truth. This might be a little bit cute actually.



    1. The sequel focuses on characters not found in The Outsiders and Ponyboy only makes a few, brief appearances, but it’s still a good read. Be warned, though: the ending might make you throw the book across the room.

      Well, yes, fourteen-year-olds tend to be overly dramatic at times. But I tend to think that Ponyboy is being as accurate as he can be. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the rest of this book!


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