Why were things rough all over in The Outsiders?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 2 Ponyboy narrates to Cherry Valence exactly how Johnny had become so hurt and scared.  Cherry recognized it right away, and Pony gave her the story.  Johnny had been beaten to the very edge of his life by a group of four Socs.  Pony believes that the Greasers have a tough lot in life.  They are poor, often without families, live on the poor end of town, etc.  Ponyboy believes that the Socs have no such problems.  Cherry responds to Ponyboy by telling him that not all Socs are like the group that beat up Johnny.  She also tells Ponyboy that things are rough all over.  

What Cherry is trying to show Ponyboy is that while the Socs don't have the same problems that the Greasers have, the Socs do have their own set of problems.  One problem that Cherry specifically points out is that the Socs are never emotionally happy.  They are always struggling with an insatiable thirst for more.  They are never satisfied, which leads them to always feeling dissatisfied.  

"Rat race is a perfect name for it... Did you ever hear of having more than you wanted? So that you couldn't want anything else... It seems like we're always searching for something to satisfy us, and never finding it."  

Ponyboy immediately grasps Cherry's meaning.  He understands that the problems between the two gangs is not only about money.  It's about feelings.  

"That's why we're separated," I said. "It's not money, it's feeling--- you don't feel anything and we feel too violently."