And so it begins (again). We finally got to start reading The Outsiders today. The way things have been going so far this year, I still haven’t found my groove. We didn’t even get to the book’s hook – Ponyboy getting jumped. But to continue the fishing metaphor, getting seventh-graders hooked on this book is like chumming for sharks; just dump it in the water and they’ll come swarming. It’s something about the voice of Ponyboy. Other novels with teenage protagonists or narrators may get the details right, but Susan Hinton’s voice just rings true. It’s almost as if they can tell it’s really a teenager telling the story, even as they are shocked when I tell them it really is.
So on our first day with the novel, I barely had time to show them who Paul Newman was, talk about 1st person narrators, and read up to “…since Mom and Dad were killed in an auto wreck…” before we ran out of time. I usually like to stop on the first day at the line “Need a haircut greaser?” But it didn’t matter; they were still walking out the door saying things like, “Great book!” and “I can’t wait until tomorrow.” And nothing has even happened yet!!
I also got a chance to ask them about Pony’s line about which is better, growing up too soon like Darry, or never growing up at all like Soda.
“So, what do you think? Which is better?”
They were actually stumped by this one. I was shocked.
“Wait a minute. You actually are thinking this over? OK. Wait. How many of you know someone, an adult, who when you look at them and talk to them, you wonder, were you EVER a kid?”
Almost every hand goes up.
“Don’t you hate people like that?” (Mark Twain sure did.)
All the heads nod.
“Do you want to be like that when you’re an adult?”
Of course not.
“Well then. It’s a no-brainer isn’t it?”
Tomorrow we distinguish between childlike and childish.