The author’s message is the theme in a work of fiction. In The Outsiders, Hinton’s message is that class conflict is pointless, unwarranted, and destructive.
Ponyboy begins by explaining that he is a “greaser,” a term he says is “used to class all us boys on the East Side” (ch 1, p. 3). By beginning the book this way, Hinton introduces us to a major theme in the book: class conflict.
The Socs and Greasers are at odds for no other reason than their different social classes. This leads to a great deal of destruction, ruining several innocent young lives. Bob is killed because of the violence, and Johnny eventually dies as a result. Ponyboy’s life is never the same.
When Ponyboy meets Cherry, a Soc girl, he realizes that not all Socs are bad. They have problems too, even if they are different ones. They also are more similar to the Greasers than the each group would think.
It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren't so different. We saw the same sunset. (ch 3, p. 40)
It is true that the two groups are not that different. By constantly feuding, they are accomplishing nothing but perpetuating the war and destroying people’s lives. There is no reason for them to fight.