Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 87–101 | Cite as

Institutionalizing The Outsiders: YA Literature, Social Class, and the American Faith in Education

  • Eric L. TribunellaEmail author
Original Paper


The Outsiders if often credited with marking the emergence of YA literature. It was written by a teenager and was intended to represent honestly the difficult lives of other young adults. Despite the novel’s audience and purpose and its potentially provocative acknowledgment of the problems of social class, The Outsiders was readily institutionalized as part of school reading lists and educational curricula throughout the United States. Its institutionalization can be accounted for in part by the way it offers a palliative to the problems it depicts. The protagonist, Ponyboy, represents the novel itself as an intervention into those problems, but it works to reaffirm a notion of rugged individualism and a faith in American education. Such lessons ultimately disarm the novel’s class critique and render it safe for educational institutions.


S.E. Hinton The Outsiders Educational use of literature Social class Alienation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishThe University of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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