Social Differences In The Outsiders

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In The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton writes about the social differences between the “Greasers” and the “Socs.” This stood out to me because nobody should be discriminated against and treated poorly just because of how much money they make, or because they weren’t born into a rich family. The Outsiders is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and follows a group of boys named Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade, Dallas (Dally) Winston, Sodapop Curtis, Darrel (Darry) Curtis, Steve Randle, and Keith (Two-bit) Matthews who are all known as “Greasers.” Ponyboy sees the world in a different way than the rest of his friends because he’s smart and doesn’t start trouble with anyone. There was a direct description of how the Socs and Greasers are different, but they’re also alike in many ways. In the book, Ponyboy states, “We’re poorer than the Socs and the middle class. I reckon we’re wilder, too. Not like the Socs, who jump greasers and wreck houses and throw beer blasts for kicks, and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to the society the next. Greasers are almost like hoods; we steal things and drive old souped-up cars and hold gas stations and have gang fights once in a while.” (Hinton 3).

In a way the Socs run the town since they are rich; all they ever usually do is look for Greasers to jump and throw beer blasts for fun. At the beginning of The Outsiders, Ponyboy had just left movies, and he had no company to walk home with, so he was stuck walking by himself which isn’t safe for Greasers. A red Corvair that held five Socs in it, pulled up next to Ponyboy and stopped. One of the Socs that got out of the car said, “Need a haircut, greaser?” (Hinton 5). The Greasers like to fight fair, so if a person doesn’t have a pocket knife then the greaser won’t use his so there won’t be an advantage. As Two-Bit Matthews states, “Good. Tim’ll fight fair if Dally doesn’t pull a blade on him. Dally shouldn’t have any trouble.” (Hinton 29). Then he goes on to state again, “A fair fight isn’t rough,” (Hinton 29). Socs don’t have that same concept because they’re only ever known to jump the Greasers. The Westside is known as the rich side of town, which is where the Socs all live. The Eastside is where the Greasers live, and it’s known as the hood or the poor side of town. Both the Socs and Greasers go through hard times in their lives, some being harder than others. Another instance where Greasers always stick together is when Johnny killed a Soc because they were about to kill Ponyboy. Johnny tells Ponyboy, “I had to. They were drowning you, Pony. They might have killed you. And they had a blade . . . they were gonna beat me up . . . .” (Hinton 57).

In The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton wrote, “Cherry had said her friends were too cool to feel anything, and yet she could remember watching sunsets. Randy was supposed to be too cool to feel anything, and yet there was a pain in his eyes.” (115-116). Greasers and Socs both have struggles in their life, mainly with family issues. Johnny Cade’s parents ignore him and beat him, so when he went missing they didn’t care enough to go out and look for him or have the police search. In the book, Johnny was going to be charged with manslaughter, and if he recovered he’d have to appear in juvenile court for running away. The author, S. E. Hinton states that “Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn. Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot. But all the wrong sights, not the sights you want to see.” (122).  

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