What does Ponyboy think it is better to see Socs as “just guys” in The Outsiders? What do you think he means by this?

Pony thinks it is better to see Socs as "just guys" in The Outsiders because he discovers that things are "rough all over" and that Socs have to deal with their own specific set of struggles. He means that Socs are also adolescents dealing with a variety of issues and understands that their lives are not perfect.

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Ponyboy thinks it is better to see the Socs as “just guys” because it brings them down to a level that he can better understand and, in turn, fear less. When people do not understand others, there is greater chance of fear and anti-social behavior between them. Conversely, when they begin to understand and humanize one another, it can help create harmony. Ponyboy means that Socs are ordinary teenagers with many similarities to his Greaser friends. Socs have fears, just as Greasers do.

When he first meets Cherry and Marcia and they ask why a bright, young, and apparently motivated student hangs out with dirt like the other Greasers. He is offended and becomes defensive about his friends. Yet, as he and Cherry talk and share some of their thoughts and insecurities, he recognizes that Socs have shortcomings and frailties too.

It is a revelation to Ponyboy after spending time with Cherry to discover that Socs are similar to Greasers. Until that point, he had thought of Socs as privileged, secure kids whose futures were assured and who could integrate freely into any social circle. Because they are from completely different backgrounds, he does not even consider the internal concerns that Socs have. All he sees at first is their wealth. Moreover, after the Socs jump Johnny and beat him up badly, he fears them.

It is difficult for him to understand how vulnerable many of the Socs are, but seeing them as “just guys” helps him to recognize that they are not superior to him and that much of what motivates them is their fear and insecurities.

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There are many reasons why Ponyboy might think it’s better to see the Socs as "just guys after all."

First off, by referring to them as "guys" instead of as "Socs," Ponyboy could be trying to get rid of the label that has caused so much violence between them. Perhaps Ponyboy is pointing to their shared identity. Whatever suffering the Greasers and Socs have caused one another, they're both "guys"—people—so maybe they shouldn't try to hurt or kill one another.

Even though the Socs have more money than the Greasers, Ponyboy realizes that "things were rough all over." Like the Greasers, the Socs have their own struggles that no amount of money can fully protect them from.

Keep in mind, Ponyboy has his “guys” revelation after his talk with Randy. As Ponyboy and Randy talk, what does Ponyboy notice? He notices that Randy is "close to tears." We might ask the following question: did Randy's display of emotion help lead Ponyboy to his revelation?

It might also be interesting to take Ponyboy's "just guys" idea and apply it to theories about "the other." How do the Greasers and Socs "other" one another? How does their conflict resemble how different countries or groups tend to "other" each other? It might be interesting to think about how Ponyboy's notion relates to broader ideas about belonging, acceptance, tolerance, understanding, and basic humanity.

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After Randy Adderson speaks to Pony at the Tasty Freeze, Two-Bit refers to Randy as "Mr. Super-Soc" and Pony corrects him by saying that he "ain't a Soc." Pony admits to feeling better after talking to Randy and mentions that "Socs were just guys after all." He makes this comment because he recognizes that things are rough all over and that Socs also have issues that they deal with on an everyday basis. Prior to interacting with Cherry Valance and Randy Adderson, Pony viewed Socs as privileged, carefree teenagers who got away with everything and had nothing to worry about. As a Greaser, Pony's friends come from dysfunctional homes, live in poverty, and are discriminated against because of their appearance and taboo lifestyle. Pony used to envy Socs and felt like they had nothing to complain about because they were wealthy and popular.

However, Cherry gives Pony significant insight into her life by telling him that Socs deal with an entirely different set of struggles. During Pony's conversation with Randy, he becomes more aware of their struggles, which confirms Cherry's comment that things are rough all over. Randy says that he will be marked lousy for not participating in the rumble and believes his only option is to skip town. After speaking to Cherry and Randy, Pony understands that Socs are also human and not as different as they seem, which is why he refers to them as "just guys."

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In chapter 7, the Greasers discover that Johnny has a broken back and a slim chance of survival. The next day after visiting, Johnny, Ponyboy and Two-Bit stop at the Tasty Freeze to buy some sodas and Randy Adderson pulls up in a blue Mustang. Randy asks to speak with Ponyboy and commends him for saving the children trapped in the building. Randy proceeds to lament about Bob Sheldon's unfortunate death and gives Ponyboy insight into his background. Randy then says that he is sick of all the violence and will not participate in the upcoming rumble between the gangs. Randy is depicted as a sensitive, confused adolescent, and Ponyboy tells Randy that he would help him if he could. After Randy leaves, Two-Bit refers to Randy as "Mr. Super-Soc," and Ponyboy responds by telling Two-Bit that Randy is "just a guy." Pony then thinks to himself,

Socs were just guys after all. Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too (Curtis, 100).

Pony is one of the most insightful, perceptive characters throughout the novel and is beginning to realize that Socs and Greasers have many similarities and both experience struggle throughout their lives. For Ponyboy, it is easier to view Randy and his gang members as "just guys" instead of Socs because it humanizes them, making it easier for Ponyboy to sympathize with their situations.

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The answer to this question is fairly simple.  When a Greaser like Ponyboy labels someone as a "Soc," then the person is made an automatic enemy (while disregarding his or her humanity).  However, if Ponyboy thinks of any of the Socs as "just guys" instead of the incriminating term "Socs," then Ponyboy blesses those people (who the other Greasers think of as enemies) as truly human and, therefore, worthy of at least consideration if not love and compassion. 

This is an example of how Ponyboy is a truly thoughtful individual and not an unthinking and unintelligent Greaser at heart.  Ponyboy proves this in many ways, most especially in observing nature with Johnny and reciting Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay."  Ponyboy further shows his thoughtfulness (and difference between himself and the other Greasers) by his relationship with Cherry Valence (a Soc).  Ponyboy's statement about Soc's as "just guys" is yet another way he proves himself different from his fellow Greasers by being thoughtful about humanity.

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Ponyboy is relieved that the Socs are relatable, because they may not fight any more.

The greasers and the Socs have been at odds for a long time.  They fight each other consistently, due to differences in social class and neighborhood.

We get jumped by the Socs. I'm not sure how you spell it, but it's the abbreviation for the Socials, the jet set, the West side rich kids. It's like the term "greaser," which is used to class all us boys on the East Side. (Ch. 1)

It is a feud that has lasted endlessly, and continues to last, because when one group jumps the other, then they have to get revenge by jumping them back.  Pony feels frustrated by the violence and the fact that it seems to have no end, and when he meets Randy after Johnny is in the hospital, he is relieved that he is too.

Things were rough all over, but it was better that way. That way you could tell the other guy was human too. (Ch. 7)

This is a reference also to Pony's conversation with Cherry, when he first met and talked with another Soc and realized that they are not so different.  She is the first one who said this to him, about things being rough all over.  Socs have problems too.  

Randy does not want to fight.  He is mourning Bob’s death, not gunning for revenge.  He also admires Johnny’s bravery in trying to save the children in the fire.  He sees Johnny and Pony as people, so Pony is able to see him as just a guy too.

Incidents like this, when one or two gang members decide they are no longer interested in fighting, may be a drop in the bucket.  However, they demonstrate that if one gang member can see another as human, change is possible.  If one can choose not to fight, then maybe others will follow.

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