The Outsiders Discussion Questions

Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

The questions in this lesson can be used to ensure students are reading The Outsiders. They will also help them explore, more deeply, the plot, characters, setting, and theme.

Discussion Questions for The Outsiders

As a teacher, you can use these questions in the classroom, or in online discussion forums, to confirm that your students are reading the book. The questions will also help students gain a better understanding of the social issues addressed in The Outsiders as they explore the setting, plot, characters, and theme of the book in greater detail.

Questions on Setting and Plot

  • Describe the significance and importance of the old church Johnny and Pony hide out in.
  • Would the story change if it was set in modern day? What would be different? What would be the same?
  • What about the drive-in made it a significant part of the story?
  • How does Ponyboy's description of each member of his gang in the beginning of the book foreshadow their actions later on?
  • How does Ponyboy's opinion of the Socs at the end of the novel differ from his opinion at the beginning?
  • Why did Ponyboy and Johnny go into the burning church? How is this decision important to the story?

Questions on Theme

  • How does S. E. Hinton use the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay in the book? Why do you think she does this?
  • Do you think The Outsiders is a realistic story? Why or why not? How does the relationship between the Greasers and Socs in the book connect with the real world?
  • At the end of the book, Ponyboy writes an essay for his teacher beginning with the same words the book began with. Why did he write about the events in his life for his essay?
  • What is the significance of violence in The Outsiders? Which characters are violent? Why are they violent? What do you think Hinton's attitude toward violence is, based on how she presents the story?
  • Do you think the relationship between Greasers and Socs will stay the same, or change, after the events that took place in the book?
  • When Cherry says, ''Things are rough all over,'' explain what she meant about the Socs' lives?

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