Although she does not have a prominent role in the narrative, Cherry (Sherri) Valance is often considered the most important female character in "The Outsiders." Cherry provides a connection between the Socs and the Outsiders, and she helps to develop one of the themes of the novel; namely, that shared interests can close the gap between social classes.
Although Cherry belongs to the middle class, she is as bold as a greaser girl sometimes. For instance, when Dally tries "his usual tricks" with the girls behind whom he, Johnny, and Ponyboy sit, Cherry responds on a similar level of language: "'Take your feet off my chair and shut your trap'"(Ch.2). Then, in response to Dally's lewd innuendos, she says, "'It's a shame you can't ride bull half as good as you can talk it'" (Ch.2). But, later on, when she talks with Ponyboy, Cherry bridges the gap between them as they discuss how they both love literature, music, and sunsets. Thus, she demonstrates that she can share interests with teens from other socioeconomic levels.
While Cherry does not always approve of what her boyfriend does, she wants Ponyboy to understand that teens in her social class also have problems; "'Things are rough all over'" (Ch.2), she tells him, and she helps Ponyboy to perceive things from new perspectives. Cherry, also, widens her outlook when she realizes that others such as Ponyboy and Johnny are worthy people despite their lower socioeconomic class. With this independence of thought, along with her kind nature, Cherry offers to observe the Socs' preparation for the rumble with the Greasers. Furthermore, she is willing to testify that Johnny acted in self-defense when he killed her boyfriend because Bob tried to drown Ponyboy at the fountain.
Although Cherry has a relatively small role in the novel, the ambiguity of some of her sympathies makes her character believable. She is the most developed of the characters because she is independent in her thinking and is an outsider who does not always understand the motives and feelings of some of the others. Most importantly, she demonstrates that friendships can mitigate the differences among people.