Ponyboy Curtis is the sole narrator of The Outsiders, so all the characters and all the action are seen through his eyes as the reader senses his gradual maturation. His older brother, Soda-pop, is a dropout who now works and feels "caught in the middle" between Darry and Ponyboy. His running away during an argument creates a final scene of understanding between the three brothers at the end of the novel. Darry, the oldest brother, is the father figure, a former football star who gave up college and now works two jobs to keep the family together.
Johnny, the "pet" of the gang is very young; his killing of a Soc sets the main plot in motion. His heroism in saving small children from a church fire leads eventually to his death, which prompts intense self-reflection in Ponyboy. Dallas Winston is an older, world-wise character who has "fought for his life" and helps Ponyboy and Johnny hide out after the killing. His own tragic death through a misunderstanding begins to bring to a closure some of the novel's themes. Two-Bit is a gang member known for his distinctive switchblade, Sandy is a girl much loved by Sodapop, but her pregnancy by someone else leads to the final confrontation scene between the brothers. Cherry Valance is a Soc, a friend of the Soc gang member who was killed by Johnny. She attempts to help the "greasers" when she realizes the unfairness of class conflict and the futility of gang fighting.