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THE GREASERS. The greasers are generally kids who come from the "wrong side of the tracks": Most come from lower income families and, often, from broken homes. They have very little money, except for those who have jobs (such as Soda and Steve) or who make money illegally (Dally). They are distinguished by their jeans, t-shirts, leather jackets and long, greasy hair. There are several greaser gangs mentioned in the story; they often fight against each other, but they also unite when it comes to dealing with their enemies, the Socs. They hang out in groups, in part, for protection against the other gangs. Most of them walk or use the bus; few of them have cars. Many of the greasers--particularly Pony and Johnny--are introverted dreamers who hope to one day escape their present lifestyles.
THE SOCS. They are the "rich kids" who come mostly from upper-class families. The boys wear colorful, madras shirts; the girls (there are few mentioned in the story) are popular. Cherry Valance, for example, is a beautiful cheerleader who drives a Corvette. The main Socs in the story, Bob and Randy, cruise the Tulsa streets in a new Mustang. They are generally described as colder and more detached than their greaser counteparts; they have most of the necessities in life handed to them and look down upon the lower class greasers, who have few things in life given to them.
The previous post was very strong. I would merely add that the dynamics between both represents the notion of the "haves" and "have nots." Part of what makes Hinton's work so great is that it is not afraid to show how adolescent perceptions of reality are similar to adult conceptions, or how adult configurations of reality might be highly adolescent. The Greasers resent the Socs because they have "it all." Much of the Greasers' social cohesion is based on the feelings of resentment that they have nothing and the Socs have it "good." The Greasers' attitude towards how they live their lives and the activities in which they engage is predicated on the idea that the Socs don't understand the idea of struggle and of pain, something that helps to unify the Greasers' in their own vision of self. This dynamic is interesting in that it is something that we see in groups' today which are struggling against other groups with a greater sense of entitlement, power, and social acceptance.
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