What Is The Theme Of The Outsiders

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lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One of the most dominant themes in The Outsiders is that of class conflict.  The beginning of the novel strongly introduces this theme as a group of Socs, the West Side rich kids, jump and terrorize Ponyboy, a young boy from the East Side:

"Hey, grease," one said in an over-friendly voice.  "We're gonna do you a favor, greaser.  We're gonna cut all that long greasy hair off" (5).

The Socs target Ponyboy because of his social status as a greaser; the differences between the values and socio-economic status of the greasers and Socs in The Outsiders have turned the two groups against each other in animosity.  Each group targets the other as an enemy, and because of their different lifestyles and the resulting stereotypes, each side despises the other.  The greasers are seen as hoods and juvenile delinquents by the Socs while the greasers perceive the Socs as the group that "has all the breaks" with their "tuff" mustangs and madras shirts.  The class conflict between Socs and greasers drives the plotline of the novel, becoming one of the most important themes in The Outsiders.

lightlightjay's profile pic

lightlightjay | eNotes Newbie

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I think that one of the themes that the author is teaching us is that people shouldn't separate just because of how much money they have or their background. I think this because if the Socs and the Greasers weren't separated the Socs wouldn't have been jumping Ponyboy so that Johnny wouldn't have killed the Soc that was trying to kill Ponyboy.

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lisaroderick | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Bridging the gap between rich and poor, honor among the lawless, the treacherousness of male-female interactions are all themes in this piece of literature