Classic Books About Outsiders


Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! is the tale of two outsiders. The first, Thomas Sutpen, is set on creating a dynasty in Mississippi all while keeping himself apart from the local people (unless, of course, he finds himself in need of something). The second is narrator Quentin Compson, a Harvard student who finds himself unable to fit in because he carries the stigma of coming form the south, from a place that is as alien as another country.

Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
Our anti-hero Holden Caulfield wanders the streets of New York, alienated from the world around him, flouting law and convention so as not to be what he calls “phony.” At six foot two-and-a-half inches, the 13 year old fits neither in the world of adults nor adolescents, observing both with lonely detachment.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The nameless protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s novel is a black man living in the 1930s who, because of his race and the troubles that come with it during this time, considers himself to be invisible. Though he is incredibly smart, he secludes himself from society for he feels society is doing the same to him.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The story of two outsiders, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is a classic outsider masterpiece. From the very beginning of the novel, Jane fails to fit in with the society around her until she meets Edward Rochester, with whom she falls in love.

Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick is the story of siblings Wilbur and Eliza who, because they are so heinous, are cut off from society by their parents. Though they are extremely smart when they are in close contact, their parents believe them to be mentally unstable and remove them even further from society, which only worsens their growing loneliness.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a troubled young black girl with zero self-esteem living in Ohio. Because she defines beauty as having blue eyes and being white (which she doesn’t have and isn’t), and has convinced herself that the only way she can be happy is to be beautiful, she alienates herself from the outside world and eventually goes mad.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This classic, written by S. E. Hinton when she was 16 years old, is as profound today as it was when it was first published in 1967. According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and proud of it.

The Stranger  by Albert Camus
The protagonist of The Stranger, Meursault, is the epitome of an outsider. The emotionally detached character is indifferent when it comes to nearly every situation, a trait that sets him apart from the society and allows him to isolate himself easily. His painful honesty and lack of emotion keep his peers at bay, ensuring that he remains an outcast.

1984 by George Orwell
Winston Smith, although seemingly one of the compliant masses whose every move and thought is controlled by the government, leads a secret outsider life. His secret inner life rebels against the uniformity of his society and lands him in a world of hurt.

Have you read any of these books? Which one is your favorite? I will forever be a fan of The Outsiders.

Any other classic outsider books you want to add to this list?

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