Ponyboy likes Cherry, and feels that they have a true connection, but also feels separate from her because of their social class difference, and the fact that there is an ongoing rivalry in their school between Greasers and Socs. Since the novel is written in the first person, we learn that he thinks she must see the same sunset he does every night. In the film version made by Francis Ford Coppola, the scene is played out with dialogue between the two characters. Ponyboy asks her if she can see the sunset from the side of town where she lives, and she says yes, pretty good. He says he can see it from his house too. She smiles and realizes he is saying that nothing really separates them after all, that it would be possible for them to be friends. Later in the film, Ponyboy is angry when he thinks Cherry is behaving charitably towards him out of pity. She says she wasn't trying to give him charity; that she likes him, and thinks fondly of him when remembering how they talked.
Sunsets are also a theme in the novel of things that connect everyone regardless of imagined or artificial differences like class. Sunsets occur every day, moving time forward predictably; they are a constant in a world where many people think that change is within their grasp. In this way sunsets can be seen both as a symbol of hope and change, but also of sameness and repetition, a reminder that nothing ever changes. Ponyboy looks at the sunset and thinks of "hundreds of boys who maybe watched sunsets and looked at stars and ached for something better."