Today in class we looked at both The Outsiders and Harriet the Spy as novels about outcasts or as my professor kept referring to “the others.” (I kept thinking of Lost.) He meant the not-quite-perfect children. Kids on the outside of the social circle.
It was an interesting approach. We talked about how the greasers in The Outsiders really aren’t at the bottom of the food chain socially. In the book there is mention of the hoods, which are at the bottom because they are described as the more uneducated bunch. Ponyboy, his brothers, and the rest of the greasers are actually more of the middle class. If it weren’t for their parent’s death, Darry could have gone on to college on an athletic scholarship. Ponyboy is smart and gets good grades. They have more potential than the hoods, and that’s probably why the Socs see them as more of a threat. Because there is the possibility that Ponyboy and his brothers might one day be their equals.
I decided I’m not such a fan of Harriet the Spy. Here’s why: Harriet does not learn anything after people find her journal and read it. She writes down such mean and horrible things. She’s sees it as the truth, and so there’s nothing wrong. She writes things like:
PINKY WHITEHEAD WILL NEVER CHANGE. DOES HIS MOTHER HATE HIM? IF I HAD HIM I’D HATE HIM.
IF MARION HAWTHORNE DOESN’T WATCH OUT SHE’S GOING TO GROW UP INTO A LADY HITLER.
That isn’t the TRUTH. That’s just plain mean! And by the end of the book, she doesn’t develop any sort of heart or compassion. She simply says, “Ole Golly was right. Sometimes you have to lie.” The lesson she learns from the whole book is that you have to lie to have friends. That’s a terrible lesson to learn.
I had a very hard time liking Harriet at all reading this as an adult. I think as a kid, I thought she was shocking. I probably thought it was cool she had a secret notebook. But she’s a mean kid.
After class tomorrow, I meeting with my teacher to discuss my novel. I made a two page list of road blocks I’ve encountered. Maybe she can help me brainstorm ways around them.