Ponyboy Curtis. The main character and narrator of the story, Pony enjoys some of the aspects of being a greaser, but not the violence, poverty or social bias that goes with it. He yearns for the old life with his family before his parents are killed, and he still manages to dream about going to college, where he can utilize his writing skills.
Darry Curtis. The oldest of the three Curtis brothers, Darry mainly tries to keep Pony and Soda in line so the family can remain together. He is forced to be the father figure of the family, and Pony particularly hates the strict manner in which Darry enforces his rules. Once a local football star, Darry has long since given up hope of ever utilizing the athletic scholarship he once had.
Sodapop Curtis. The happy-go-lucky Curtis brother, Soda is satisfied with being a high school dropout but wishes he could marry his girlfriend Sandy, who is forced to move to Florida because she is pregnant (but not by Soda). He also wishes the constant fighting between his brothers would end so he would not always be put in the middle.
Johnny Cade. The most tragic member of the greasers, Johnny only wishes to fit in somewhere. He has a terrible home life, and his parents pay little attention to him. The smallest of the boys, Johnny is frightened all the time, since he has been previously beaten by a Soc gang. Johnny would love to live in the country somewhere, away from all the violence of the gang fighting.
Dallas Winston. Dally claims to love being a hood, and he is certainly proud of his status as the toughest of all the greasers and Socs. He is happiest when fighting and running afoul of the law, but Dally would actually prefer working with horses and, deep down, he wishes his estranged parents "gave a damn" about him. Dally is particularly close to Johnny, who he treats like a little brother.
Cherry Valance. The beautiful Soc cheerleader, Cherry realizes she is spoiled rotten and only wishes for the gang violence to stop and for her parents to set boundaries for her. She loves her dead boyfriend, Bob, and she knows she could "fall in love" with Dally if given half a chance.