The Outsiders Themes

  • The Socs and the Greasers represent the opposing sides of the conflict between rich and poor. The arrogant, self-satisfied Socs flaunt their wealth and drive around in fancy cars, while the Greasers wear simple t-shirts and live on the bad side of town. Their socioeconomic differences fuel the novel's central conflict.
  • Both the Greasers and the Socs prize loyalty. Johnny shows fierce loyalty to Ponyboy by killing Bob when the Socs attack in the park. One could argue that loyalty exacerbates the conflicts in the novel, driving Johnny to violence and requiring the rival gangs to pick sides in a deadly rivalry.
  • Ponyboy’s search for his identity leads him to wonder whether he will model himself on the other members of his gang or follow his own course. He frequently rebels against his older brother Darry's authority, and he has trouble adjusting after his friend Johnny's death. Ultimately, he finds himself by writing his story down.


(Novels for Students)

Class Conflict

Issues of American economic class are confronted head on by the portrayal of the rival gangs as rich and...

(The entire section is 1643 words.)