What major events happen in chapter 2 of The Outsiders?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chapter two sees Pony Boy heading into town with Dallas and Johnny, and the trio decides to illegally enter the Nightly Double. Soon after they arrive, Dallas starts chatting up some Soc girls, who do not appreciate his crassness.

When Ponyboy gets a chance to chat to one of the girls alone, she refers to Dallas as "trash", which Ponyboy, as a fellow greaser, finds offensive. This is significant as it reminds the reader of the divide between the Socs and the greasers. As a greaser, which is a term that refers to somebody from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks, and without much money, Ponyboy feels an allegiance to Dallas, even though he is uncomfortable with Dallas's behavior.

This divide is further explained in another significant chapter two scene, when Ponyboy explains to Cherry that a few months earlier, Johnny had been beaten black and blue by a group of Socs. It is as a result of that attack that Johnny now carries a six-inch switchblade to make sure he can always protect himself.

Perhaps the most significant moment of the drive-in encounter is when Cherry tells Ponyboy that Socs also have problems, of which the greasers know nothing. Ponyboy, however, finds this hard to believe, as he can't imagine that socs, with their wealth and prestige, could have any real problems.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Pony thinks the Greasers and the Socs are impossibly different, but one of the main purposes of this chapter is to show how much they have in common. Pony finds that he can relate to Cherry and that she is a likable character. Although talking to her makes him somewhat nervous, Cherry is down-to-earth and willing to listen to Pony's perspective. She isn't afraid of Dally, even throwing a soda in his face to help cool him off. Cherry doesn't appreciate Dally's language or attitude and doesn't mind telling him so. When Pony shares with her the reason that Johnny is so afraid of Socs, Cherry insists that not all Socs are the same. When Pony tries to brush off her comment, she points out that not all Greasers are like Dally, and Pony begins to see her point. Pony thus learns that not all Socs are cold and aloof and that there is a common sense of humanity that binds them all together. This will be important as the plot evolves.

Yet there is an equally important point of this chapter. There are loyalties in both groups, and people generally adhere to those group lines. When Cherry and Marcia make some rather unflattering comments about Dally when he leaves their circle, Johnny and Pony are quick to jump to his defense:

You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do. When you're a gang, you stick up for the members. If you don't stickup for them, stick together, make like brothers, it isn't a gang any more. It's a pack. A snarling, distrustful, bickering pack like the Socs in their social clubs...

Even if Pony knows that Dally is wrong, his loyalties lie with his group and therefore with Dally. Later, when Cherry tells Pony that the Socs have problems he's never even heard of, he is so far removed from that reality that he cannot fathom what she could be talking about:

I really couldn't see what Socs would have to sweat about--- good grades, good cars, good girls, madras and Mustangs and Corvairs--- Man, I thought, if I had worries like that I'd consider myself lucky.

This perspective is amplified by his recent reflections of Johnny's horrific beating by the Socs, who left him bloody, face down, and likely assumed dead. Because of this, Pony thinks Johnny will kill the next Soc who jumps him.

This conversation itself establishes upcoming conflict. Bob won't be happy to see his girlfriend hanging out with Greasers, and Johnny's fear of the Socs, particularly the one who drives the blue Mustang (which turns out to be Bob), will fuel his reaction when Pony's life is in danger in an upcoming chapter.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
In chapter 2 of The Outsiders, several major events take place that move the plot of the novel forward.

First of all, Dally, Ponyboy, and Johnny go to the Dingo for the Nightly Double. This drive-in movie theater has a bad reputation, but it is a greaser hang-out, so the three friends know lots of people there.

While watching the movie, Dally insults Cherry Valance, and she stands up to him. Even though their moment of connection is characterized by hostility, there is no doubt that Dally makes a deep impression on Cherry; she later unexpectedly admits to Ponyboy that she admires Dally, revealing a depth of character that surprises Ponyboy.

After Dally leaves, Ponyboy and Johnny sit with Cherry and Marcia and make friends with them. This moment is important because Cherry and Marcia are Socs, and the two groups rarely intersect in such a peaceful and friendly way.

While at the concessions stand together, Ponyboy tells Cherry about what happened to Johnny that made him so nervous. Cherry defends the Socs who jumped Johnny, explaining that "things are rough all over," expressing a theme of the novel in clearcut terms to Ponyboy, who is skeptical but open to Cherry's worldview.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial