While we recommend reading The Outsiders in its entirety, we understand that your classroom may have time constraints. The following Key Plot Points are meant to guide you and your students to the most relevant parts of the text so you can plan your lessons most efficiently.
The Socs Attack Ponyboy (Chapter 1): On his way home from the movies, Ponyboy Curtis, a long-haired “greaser” from the low-income section of town, gets jumped by the Socs, the gang of rich kids who bully the greasers. Ponyboy’s older brothers, Soda Pop and Darry, and the rest of the greasers respond to Ponyboy’s cries for help before the Socs can do more than scare him.
Ponyboy Befriends Cherry at the Movies (Chapter 2): Ponyboy and two other greasers, Darry and Johnny, go to a drive-in movie. While there, Darry starts harassing two Soc girls, Cherry and Marcia. Johnny and Ponyboy stand up to Darry, and Cherry throws a soda in his face. As a result, Ponyboy and Cherry become friends, surprised by how similar they are despite their being from different social groups.
Johnny Kills a Soc (Chapter 4): After a fight with his brother Darry, Ponyboy and Johnny go to a park to cool down. As Ponyboy and Johnny have a cigarette, a group of Socs attacks them, putting Ponyboy’s head in a nearby fountain. Traumatized and worried that Ponyboy will die, Johnny stabs Bob, a Soc who is Cherry’s boyfriend. With help from Dally, Ponyboy and Johnny flee to an abandoned church in a different town.
Fire in the Church (Chapter 6):After Johnny and Ponyboy spend five days waiting for Dally, he arrives at the church and takes the two boys to lunch. He explains that it’s safe for them to come home, because Cherry will testify in their defense. They return to the church to find that it is on fire and that children are trapped inside. Johnny goes in to save them, and both Ponyboy and Dally try to help. Ponyboy is knocked unconscious, and Johnny and Dally are both critically injured.
A Rumble and a Death (Chapter 9): Cherry helps the Socs and the greasers arrange a rumble without weapons. The greasers are victorious, but Dally tells Ponyboy that they need to get to the hospital to see Johnny. Ponyboy arrives in time for Johnny to remind him to “stay gold” before he dies.
Dally Is Killed by the Police (Chapter 10): Crazed by Johnny’s death, Dally robs a grocery store, fleeing while pursued by police. Dally leads them to a parking lot, where he gets out of the car brandishing a gun. Johnny, who is watching nearby, knows it isn’t loaded. The police don’t know that the gun isn’t loaded and shoot Dally.
Ponyboy Recovers Through Writing (Chapter 12): Despite the court’s allowing Ponyboy to stay with his brothers, he struggles to function in school in the wake of Johnny’s and Dally’s deaths. When his English teacher gives him the option to write something personally meaningful, he decides to tell the story of the conflict between the greasers and the Socs that resulted in Bob, Johnny, and Dally’s deaths.