In what ways are the greasers different from the Socs in The Outsiders?

In The Outsiders, the greasers have a lower socioeconomic status than the affluent Socs and reside on the poorer East Side of town. They also come from dysfunctional families and have a bad reputation. Greasers also dress differently, and their social group is much more supportive and genuine. In contrast, the Socs enjoy many privileges, experience carefree lives, and hail from stable families. Their social group is like one big rat race, and the members are superficial and selfish.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The greasers reside on the East Side of town and occupy a lower social class than the Socs. The greasers are also considered troublemakers and labeled as society's outcasts. They have terrible reputations throughout town and are judged by their rough, intimidating appearance. Unlike the Socs, the greasers wear leather jackets with denim jeans and slick back their long hair, which is their trademark look.

The greasers also hail from broken homes and have dysfunctional families. Given their similar backgrounds and difficult living situations, the greasers rely on each other and consider themselves family. They are an extremely loyal group of friends and make sacrifices to support each other. Unlike the Socs, the greasers do not put on airs or try to compete with each other. They are genuine, sincere, and straightforward.

The Socs are affluent teenagers who reside on the wealthy West Side of town and have stable households. Since they are rich, the Socs have impeccable reputations and enjoy a privileged lifestyle. They hold beer bashes, drive fast cars, and live carefree and reckless lives. Despite their obvious advantages, the Socs are callous, superficial, and misguided.

Cherry Valance tells Pony that being a Soc is like participating in one big rat race where everyone is trying to outdo each other. The Socs are depicted as dismissive, insincere teenagers who pick on greasers for fun and cause problems without experiencing the consequences. Pony's outlook on the Socs changes after meeting Cherry Valance and Randy Adderson. He realizes that Socs have their own unique set of problems and do not have the perfect lives.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Greasers are different from the Socs in that they come from the wrong side of the tracks. They are outcasts from respectable society, members of a class looked down on and despised by those from more upscale neighborhoods. It is this outcast status that gives the Greasers a strong sense of solidarity. It's very much a case of Greasers versus the World. The Greasers know that if they stick together then they'll be so much better for it.

As for the Socs, they lack that sense of being part of something bigger. As they occupy a position higher up the social ladder than the Greasers, they can treat gang life with less seriousness, as all a bit of a game. Their different attitude can be seen most clearly in relation to fighting. While Greasers fight because they have to, Socs fight because they actually get a kick out of it. (No pun intended.)

As the Socs come from good families, they don't see the gang as an alternative family in the way that the Greasers do. There's a sense in which they're playing at gangs—indulging in a hobby of which they'll soon get bored before they grow up and take their privileged place in the adult world.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main difference between the greasers and the Socs is that they are from different social classes.

In The Outsiders, we learn that Socs are from the higher social class and greasers are from the lower social class.  The greasers are different from the Socs in other ways than being poorer though.  The two groups have set themselves at odds.  There is the social club, and the street, and never can the two cross.  Most of the greasers can’t stand the Socs, and vice versa.  They hate each other on principle, and stand up for one another.

Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while. (Ch. 1)

Pony comments that while he considers himself a greaser and is proud to be a greaser, he does not necessarily love to fight and he would not rob someone for fun or even for the money.  He just goes along for the ride.  He dresses in jeans and t-shirts and wears his hair long and greasy, because it’s what he can afford and its part of the neighborhood look.  That is what he is proud of—being part of the neighborhood, and standing by his brothers and friends.  He comments that it is hard to be a greaser though, and that with his parents dead it wears on his oldest brother.

Only Socs. And you can't win against them no matter how hard you try, because they've got all the breaks and even whipping them isn't going to change that fact. (Ch. 1)

The differences between the two groups go beyond entitlement.  Greasers live life passionately.  They care about each other, because that is all they have.  They stand up for each other, and look out for each other.  They are fighting for survival, not out of boredom.  For the Socs, it is much different.  They are just around until something better comes along.  While greasers fight because they feel too much, Socs seem to be the opposite. They fight because they feel too little.

Socs were always behind a wall of aloofness, careful not to let their real selves show through. I had seen a social-club rumble once. The Socs even fought coldly and practically and impersonally. (Ch. 3)

When Pony meets a Soc girl, Cherry, at the movies, he is surprised to learn that Socs do have feelings buried deep inside.  They do have problems too, although Pony laughs them off.  He feels like the Socs’ problems are minor compared to the greasers’.  All in all, what he learns from the experience is a little empathy for Socs, and an awareness that they are not all the same, and there might be an opportunity to end the cycle of fighting because some of them are as tired of it as the greasers are.  Of course, it will take quite a lot for that to happen, if it ever does. 

Pony is different from most greasers.  He is more reflective, and more introspective.  Even if the endless cycle of rumbles continues, he has the opportunity to use his intelligence and compassion to get out.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Socs and Greasers both come from different social classes and tend to have different personalities and values. Members of the Socs come from wealthy families and enjoy special privileges. Since they drive nice cars and wear new clothes, they are viewed as more socially acceptable members of society when compared to the Greasers. Cherry also tells Ponyboy that most of the Socs are superficial and act too cool. The Greasers come from a lower social class and have a bad reputation throughout their community. The majority of Greasers come from broken homes and do not hide their emotions. They are more supportive of each other when compared to the Socs, and are a closer group of friends. Neither gang is "right" because both the Socs and Greasers attempt to solve their differences through violence. However, there are sensitive, thoughtful characters in both groups who denounce fighting. Hinton sympathizes with the Greaser gang more throughout the novel and several characters from the Greaser gang could be considered heroes. Johnny and Ponyboy save the lives of the children in the burning church, Johnny then saves Pony's life by pushing him out of the building, and Dally saves Johnny's life by dragging him out of the fire. Each of those characters could be considered heroes and they all are members of the Greaser gang.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The basic difference is economic, the socs being the teenage children of more upper-class parents and the greasers being from the classic "wrong side of the tracks."  The differences are highlighted by their modes of dress and the cars they drive, the kinds of jobs they and their parents have, the very fact that some of the greasers have to work while the socs are never mentioned as having jobs themselves.  Ponyboy's family and his closest friend are the epitome of this, one from a family where everyone but the youngest works and the other a young teenager from a classically disadvantaged and "low class" family.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on