How and why did Ponyboy's opinion of Socs change during The Outsiders?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pony's opinion of Socs is pretty negative at first, but as he gets to know some of them he realizes everyone has problems and not all Socs are bad.

At first, Ponyboy is afraid and envious of Socs. He thinks they are rich kids who have all the breaks. He feels the Socs target greasers because that is just the way it is, and maybe because they are bored. The greasers are the outsiders.

We're poorer than the Socs and the middle class. I reckon we're wilder, too. Not like the Socs, who jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks, and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next (Chapter 1).

The night at the movies is the first time Pony gets another window into the Socs’ lives. He meets two Soc girls named Cherry and Marcia. Cherry seems particularly interested in Pony. She tells him she will not become his friend at school, but she likes that he is deep. She realizes she can tell him things and he will understand. 

Cherry no longer looked sick, only sad. "I'll bet you think the Socs have it made. The rich kids, the West-side Socs. I'll tell you something, Ponyboy, and it may come as a surprise. We have troubles you've never even heard of. You want to know something?" She looked me straight in the eye. "Things are rough all over" (Chapter 2).

People seem to tell Pony their troubles because they feel like Pony will understand. After Johnny kills Bob, Randy also seeks out Pony. He should be Pony’s enemy because he is a Soc and was Bob’s friend, and Pony was with Johnny when he killed Bob. Instead, Randy tells Pony he is tired of fighting and won’t do it anymore. Pony tells Two-Bit, "He ain't a Soc. . . he's just a guy” (Chapter 7). 

Over the course of the novel, Pony learns that people are people. Greasers and Socs have more in common than he realized. He also realizes that, while he identifies as a greaser and his gang is important to him, he is different. It is not the lifestyle he wants.

Read the study guide:
The Outsiders

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