What are the differences and similarities between the Socs and greasers in The Outsiders?

In The Outsiders, the greasers are poor, long-haired, teenage boys from the East Side whom society views as delinquents. In contrast, the Socs are affluent boys from the West Side who commit crimes but aren't seen as delinquents. The Socs also have a more organized gang than the greasers, who are more like a tight group of friends. The boys are similar in the way they are all navigating teenage angst, finding their identities, and frequently disregarding the law.

Expert Answers

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For starters, the Socs and the greasers have vast differences in physical appearance. While the Socs, who come from money, are well groomed and neat in appearance, the greasers, who hail from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks, “rarely [bother] to get a haircut.”

The other obvious difference is socioeconomic status. The Socs come from wealthy families, while the greasers do not. This difference can be plainly seen in the cars driven by members of the respective groups. Thanks to their money and privilege, the Socs are far more highly regarded than the greasers, who have been branded as “trouble.”

Ponyboy describes the greasers as being wilder than the Socs. This is far from saying that the Socs are law-abiding young citizens, but they are not as wild as the greasers, who “steal things” and “have a gang fight once in a while.”

In terms of similarities, both the Socs and the greasers are going through the same phase of life: they are growing up in a world in which they are expected to conform to a particular image. Both groups grapple with self-identity issues, with the Socs not living up to what is expected of them and the greasers, with their dysfunctional families, often feeling abandoned.

Members of both the Socs and greasers love a fight. Both groups experience the angst and emotions which are synonymous with the teenage years. Also, Socs and greasers both resent the stereotypes to which they are expected to conform.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 17, 2021
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Differences

  • The Socs come from good backgrounds. They're from the right side of the tracks, from the west side of town.

  • The greasers, on the other hand, are from the wrong side of the tracks, from the East Side. They occupy a position much further down the social ladder than their sworn enemies. They have less money than the Socs, which means that they don't get to drive around in brand new, flashy cars like their rivals.

  • Because of their privileged backgrounds, the Socs are not seen as juvenile delinquents, despite the crimes they commit and their gang activity. The same cannot be said for the greasers, however. They are regarded by society as among the lowest of the low.

Similarities

  • Both the Socs and the greasers are involved in criminal activities. They regularly get into fights and disturb the peace.

  • Socs and greasers are around the same age, and despite their differences, they see gang life as giving them a sense of identity that they might not otherwise have.

  • Following on from the previous point, many members of the rival gangs have severe family problems, which is why they come to look upon gang life as providing them with a kind of surrogate family structure that can provide them with a sense of belonging they simply can't get at home.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 17, 2021
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In addition to the similarities listed by the other educator, the greasers and the Socs are also similar in their experiences as adolescent boys. They are both groups of boys who are trying to deal with the complex process of finding their identity, and they are all dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with teenage angst. Both groups also have some boys who are more idealistic than others and members who are more pessimistic than others. Also, they are all young people who bend and break the law and struggle to fit in with the wider communities.

There are also some other differences between the groups, like the way they are treated by society and by their fellow gang members. The greasers and the Socs are also treated differently by the general public. Because the greasers are from the poorer, East Side of town, they are viewed as unruly hoodlums. Meanwhile, because the Socs are clean-cut boys from the affluent, west side, they are seen as good young men, despite their frequent bad behavior. The Socs also have a more organized structure to their gang, while the greasers are more like a group of friends—or, as Ponyboy puts it,

we were just buddies who stuck together—each man was his own leader.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 17, 2021
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The Socs and greasers are the two rival groups of teenagers in S. E. Hinton's teen novel, The Outsiders. There are obviously more differences between the groups than similarities.

SIMILARITIES 

  • All of the boys are teens (aside from Darry, who is 20; and possibly the Soc, Paul, Darry's ex-buddy who squares off against him at the rumble).
  • The boys all like to fight, and they all seem to have a general disregard for the law.
  • According to Cherry Valance, the boys aren't so different; like the greasers, the Socs also have family problems.
  • Pony and Cherry both dig sunsets.

DIFFERENCES

  • The greasers wear leather and blue jeans; the Socs wear madras shirts and khaki slacks.
  • The greasers have long, greasy hair; the Socs generally have shorter hair.
  • The greasers are poor, living on the bad side of town; the west-side Socs live in the affluent area of Tulsa.
  • Socs drive nice, new cars; few greasers even own cars, but those who do soup up older models.
  • Greasers are emotional; Socs are "sophisticated—cool to the point of not feeling anything."
  • Greasers are considered juvenile delinquents; Socs are looked upon as "an asset to society."
  • Many of the greasers are dropouts; most, if not all, of the Socs attend high school.
  • The greasers know they will always be on the bottom of the social ladder; the Socs have bright futures ahead of them.
  • The greasers "steal things... and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while." The Socs "jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks."
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