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The narrator and protagonist of Susan E. Hinton's teen novel, The Outsiders, Ponyboy Curtis is the youngest member of the greasers, a youthful gang who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. Sensitive and intelligent, he is almost an outsider within his own group, who continues a running feud with the upper-class Socs, "rich kids" with "Mustangs and madras."
One night at the drive-in theatre, Ponyboy meets Cherry Valance, a Soc cheerleader, and they immediately share a liking for each other. Cherry is the first Soc that any of the greasers have ever called a friend, and Pony comes to understand that the two groups are not so different.
"We have troubles you've never even heard of. You want to know something?... Things are rough all over."
Through Cherry, Pony meets with Randy Adderson. They do not immediately become friends, for Randy is one of the Socs who attacks Pony and Johnny Cade in the park later that night. Johnny kills Randy's best friend, Bob Sheldon, starting a chain of events that will eventually lead to the deaths of Johnny and his friend, Dallas Winston. In spite of the violence between the Socs and greasers, Randy and Pony earn each other's respect. After Pony heroically saves the kids from burning in the church, Randy pays him a visit to explain that he won't be a part of the Soc-greaser rumble.
I took a good look at him. He was seventeen or so, but he was already old. Like Dallas was old. Cherry had said her friends were too cool to feel anything, and yet she could remember watching sunsets. Randy was supposed to be too cool to feel anything, and yet there was pain in his eyes."
"... He ain't a Soc,"I said, "he's just a guy."
... Socs were just guys after all.
Ponyboy is the only one of the greasers to recognize this fact and the only greaser to maintain any kind of friendly contact with their Soc enemy. Pony meets with Cherry again before the rumble, and later, receives a visit from Randy at the Curtis home. (Randy is probably the only Soc to ever step inside.)
However, having two Soc friends does not mean that Pony likes them all. After he is acquitted in court, Pony is accosted by three Socs.
Big deal. I busted the end off my bottle and held on to the neck and tossed away my cigarette. "You get back into your car or you'll get split."
Pony has learned to judge everyone individually--greaser or Soc--and he will continue to practice this new awareness during the years to come.
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