In Chapter 1, Hinton illustrates the differences between the Socs and the Greasers from Ponyboy’s point of view. We see that Ponyboy identifies himself as a Greaser in the opening paragraph of the novel. He explains why his hair is longer than some other boys his age –
I am a greaser and most of my neighbourhood rarely bothers to get a haircut.
Ponyboy reveals early on his nervousness at being alone as there is tension between teh two gangs –
We get jumped by the Socs.
He identifies that the Greasers are “East Side” kids, whereas the Socs are “the West-side rich kids”. It is clear to the reader that these two groups are enemies, and that they live very different lives. Ponyboy details the Greasers occupations as stealing, fighting and driving: the Socs are into damaging property and having wild drinking parties.
When Ponyboy is challenged by the car of Socs, he is clearly in danger. Ponyboy is threatened with a knife and he fears for his life. He is rescued by his gang, and we realise that the tension between the two gangs is escalating as another Greaser, Johnny, had been beaten up by the Socs and severely traumatized by the incident.
By the end of the chapter, the reader is aware that the relationship between the two gangs is deteriorating fast, and trouble will follow.