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Ponyboy Curtis - The novel’s fourteen-year-old narrator and protagonist, and the youngest of the greasers. Ponyboy’s literary interests and academic accomplishments set him apart from the rest of his gang. Because his parents have died in a car accident, Ponyboy lives with his brothers Darry and Sodapop. Darry repeatedly accuses Ponyboy of lacking common sense, but Ponyboy is a reliable and observant narrator. Throughout the novel, Ponyboy struggles with class division, violence, innocence, and familial love. He matures over the course of the novel, eventually realizing the importance of strength in the face of class bias.
Darrel Curtis - Ponyboy’s oldest brother. Darrel, known as “Darry,” is a twenty-year-old greaser who is raising Ponyboy because their parents have died in a car crash. Strong, athletic, and intelligent, Darry has quit school. He works two jobs to hold the family together. The unofficial leader of the greasers, he becomes an authority figure for Ponyboy. He also makes good chocolate cake, which he and his brothers eat every day for breakfast. The other greasers call him “Superman.”
Sodapop Curtis - Ponyboy’s happy-go-lucky, handsome brother. Sodapop is the middle Curtis boy. Ponyboy envies Sodapop’s good looks and charm. Sodapop plans to marry Sandy, a greaser girl.
Two-Bit Mathews - The joker of Ponyboy’s group. Two-Bit, whose real name is Keith, is a wisecracking greaser who regularly shoplifts. He prizes his sleek black-handled switchblade. He instigates the hostilities between the Socs and the greasers by flirting with Marcia, the girlfriend of a Soc.
Steve Randle - Sodapop’s best friend since grade school. Steve is a seventeen-year-old greaser who works with Sodapop at the gas station. Steve knows everything about cars and specializes in stealing hubcaps. He is cocky and intelligent, tall and lean. He wears his thick hair in a complicated arrangement of swirls. He is also tough—he once held off four opponents in a fight with a broken soda bottle. He sees Ponyboy as Sodapop’s annoying kid brother and wishes Ponyboy would not tag along so often.
Dallas Winston - The toughest hood in Ponyboy’s group of greasers. Dallas, known as “Dally,” is a hardened teen who used to run with gangs in New York. He has an elfin face and icy blue eyes and, unlike his friends, does not put grease in his white-blond hair. Dally’s violent tendencies make him more dangerous than the other greasers, and he takes pride in his criminal record. Dally feels protective of Johnny Cade.
Johnny Cade - A sixteen-year-old greaser with black hair and large, fearful eyes. Though Johnny does not succeed in school, he approaches intellectual matters with steady concentration. The child of alcoholic, abusive parents, he is nervous and sensitive. Since his parents do not care for him, Johnny sees the greasers as his true family. In turn, the older boys, particularly Dally, are protective of him.
Sandy - Sodapop’s girlfriend. Sandy is pregnant with another man’s child and moves to Florida to live with her grandmother. Like the other greaser girls, Sandy appears in the text only when the boys mention her.
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