Mental Age In The Outsiders

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In life, people often feel older or younger than they actually are. Susan Eloise

Hinton, more commonly known as S.E. Hinton, was fifteen when she started writing

The Outsiders. She was born on July 22, 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When she was

younger, there wasn’t a lot for a child to do in Tulsa, so Hinton turned to reading and

writing at an early age. Afterwards, when she got into high school and started writing

The Outsiders, she was already mentally ahead of a lot of the young women and men

around her. S.E. Hinton’s book focuses on several teenage boys caught in the unfair

social structure of 1960’s Oklahoma. More than one of the characters in her story are

going through the same unusual mental superiority as Hinton was going through at the

time. It is interesting how their personalities affect their ages, but also the story itself.

The so-called Greasers’ personalities affect how they act, and their actions affect their

“mental ages”. The age that these outsiders are given is not the same as the one that is

affected by how they act and what they have been through.

Johnny Cade’s role is one good instance for this claim. Johnny, who is second

to youngest in this particular gang of Greasers, is often mistaken for being younger

than he actually is. “Johnny looked fourteen and he knew it and it bugged him

something awful” (Hinton 25-26). How someone looks, feels, and their actual

calendar age could all be different.
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