What is the plot of The Outsiders?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In The Outsiders a teen named Ponyboy describes a major mishap in his life.  He introduces us to his family, two older brothers that raise him since his parents died.  He also tells us that he is a Greaser, or a kid from a poor neighborhood.  The Greasers are locked in perpetual turf war with the Socs, the upper class kids.

One day, Ponyboy goes to the movies with his Greaser friends and meets a Soc girl named Cherry.  She likes him because he seems to be sensitive.  Cherry asks Pony if he reads a lot.  She says she can tell.

“…I'll bet you watch sunsets, too." She was quiet for a minute after I nodded. "I used to watch them, too, before I got so busy. .." (ch 3, p. 41)

This conversation makes Ponyboy start to wonder if the Socs and Greasers are so different after all.  Unfortunately, he and his friend Johnny get in a fight in the park with the Socs.  Johnny is jumpy because he has been jumped by Socs in the past.  He accidentally kills a Soc named Bob, Cherry’s boyfriend.  Bob is drunk when he attacks them.

Johnny and Ponyboy have to run away.  Then are told by their older friend Dally to hide in a church outside town and wait. 

It was a small church, real old and spooky and spiderwebby. It gave me the creeps. (ch 4, p. 67)

Unfortunately, while they are there a fire breaks out.  Some kids on a field trip get caught in it, and Johnny tries to save them.  He gets badly injured in the process.

 Johnny is taken to the hospital, but he dies from his injuries.  Ponyboy is never quite the same.  Because he is failing English class, his teacher asks him to write about his experiences.  He does: The Outsiders.

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