Identity within Societal Expectations: S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders
Mary E. Little and Mary Alice Meyers
Students will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
At the heart of the American dream is the belief that all can achieve a life of success, contentment, and fulfillment. It is through the opportunities provided by our society that each and every person realizes individual potential as successful, contributing members within a democratic society. To address the needs of our youngest citizens, various agencies and societal systems have been instituted by the adults within our society. Whether through the family, schools, the judicial system, organized religion, or the community itself, adults are charged with the development, direction, and mentorship of the children. But are the needs of the children being addressed? Have positive changes been occurring for our children and adolescents? The roles and responsibilities of adults and the social services created by adults to address the needs of young people must be reconceptualized because those needs are changing.
The focus of this chapter is to challenge the thinking of adults in light of their roles and responsibilities to children and adolescents, given current research on existing needs and programs, and the efficacy of the basic societal institutions. To personalize the discussions, the novel The Outsiders, by S. E. Hinton, was selected. Written initially in 1973 when