Book review and analysis of Hinton’s book The Outsiders
The disparity between the poor and the rich has contributed to the rise of gang life in the complex social world particularly among the youths or teenagers. According to the concept of sociological imagination by Mills, the social world of people exceeds any common sense perception that one might drive from his or her limited social experience. This paper uses Mill’s sociological imagination to describe the 14 year old boy Ponyboy’s situation. The classical theory of social forces is also used to analyze the boy’s situation.
Hinton’s book The Outsiders exposes the conflict that exists between the poor and the rich. The Socs and the greasers are the two main social groups that are revealed to be in conflict. The Socs belong to the upper class whereas the Greasers belongs the lower class (poor). The major cause of the conflict between the two groups is the difference in social class. The Greaser hates the Socs because they have better cars, beautiful girls, more money and boast to the Greasers that they are better than them.
The Outsiders discloses various instances of violence between the two groups. For instance the Socs are revealed attacking the Greasers walking alone in the in the streets. They attack the Greasers because they consider them as outcasts who did not have any power because they were poor. Besides, they provoke them with hurtful words and physical attacks which make the Greasers to retaliate to prove that they are also better or have power despite of being poor. “I ducked and tried to run for it but the Socs caught my arm and twisted it behind my back, and shoved my face into the fountain (Hinton 2005, p. 56).” Ponyboy was constantly attacked because he was vulnerable.
There many instances of conflict in the book associated with Ponyboy which shows how social differences can result to severe repercussions like death. The sociological imagination concept shows that personal and social challenges are the main principles that provide one with an understanding of the social conflicts that exist between the poor and the rich for example Ponyboy’s family and the Bob’s family. The Personal and social challenges principles also unfold the many social problems that transpire in a society which is torn between those who are in the upper social class and those who are the lower social class.
Then again, the social wrangles that emerge between the poor and the poor are rooted in society but not in an individual. Similarly, the science of social facts reveals that modernization and social laws are likely to intensify the social class conflicts in the contemporary societies.
The Socs’ lived without the understanding of the larger socials as well as individual levels of social practices or experiences. Therefore, they had a false social conscious which contributed to their ignorance of the social realities as well as the larger social image. Thus, that is why they disregarded the poor.
Conversely, Ponyboy’s personal troubles were shaped by his social behavior. His personal troubles comprised of the private problems that he experienced within his character and the range of his immediate relation to others. The sociological imagination conception indicates that human beings function in their lives as actors as well as actresses who make decisions about their family, groups and other concerns within their control (Ravelli, & Webber, 59). The killing of Bob is associated with individual trouble that inhibits a friendly social correlation (Hinton 2005, p. 56). But the conflict that exists between the Socs and the Greasers is a larger social problem.
The larger social problem which exists between the Socs and the Greasers is beyond an individual’s control and the choice of his or her inner life. This is associated to society’s organization and practices and is embedded in society but not in a person. Then again, the actual supremacy of the sociological imagination depends on how a person learns to differentiate between individual and social levels in personal lives. Once this is understood, a person can make his or her decisions that serve him or her best, despite of the larger social forces that he or she faces (Ravelli, & Webber, 60).
On the other hand, the classical theory of social forces shows that socialism arose due to inequitable distribution of wealth. This was because of the emergence of technological devices of science that the poor could not afford hence widening the gap between the poor and the rich.
In conclusion, as noted in Hinton’s book The Outsiders, the sociological imagination assists one in understanding the larger historical sight in relation to its significance for the inner life as well as the external livelihood of different people. Ponyboy’s understanding of the main world is shaped by his immediate environment (social institution). Therefore, what is developed from the paper is that a person’s behavior is highly shaped by his social environment. Moreover, social influence is noted as being the strongest pressure to resist.
Hinton. E. S. (2005) .The Outsiders. Farmington Hills: Thorndike Press
Ravelli, B., & Webber, M. (2012). Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective, Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Canada.