Greasers from The Outsiders

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In the S.E. Hinton novel, 'The Outsiders', greasers are the boys that live on the poverty-stricken East Side of town. While others may judge them for their appearance, the greasers we meet in the novel are just trying to get by.

The Stereotype

In this lesson, we will learn more about the look and the lifestyle that set East Side greasers apart from other kids in S.E. Hinton's novel, The Outsiders.

Style

The kids on the East Side of the city don't look the same as other kids. Some passages suggest that greasers don't want to be thought of as different. For example, they take showers and put on clean clothes before a fight so that their rivals, the Socs, won't think they're dirty. Other passages indicate that their style is meant to set them apart.

Clothing

When the novel's narrator, Ponyboy, describes greaser attire, he says, 'We wear our hair long and dress in blue jeans and T-shirts, or leave our shirttails out and wear leather jackets and tennis shoes or boots. I'm not saying that either Socs or greasers are better; that's just the way things are.'

The greaser clothing style may be a default of the financial situation on the East Side. Greasers are not able to afford to wear the high-end styles like the Socs, but they are proud of their look.

Hair

Hairstyles, however, are intended to make a statement. When talking about his hair, Ponyboy says, 'It was my pride. It was long and silky … Our hair labeled us greasers, too--it was our trademark. The one thing we were proud of. Maybe we couldn't have Corvairs and madras shirts, but we could have hair.'

Ponyboy's fellow gang members all wear their hair differently from one another. Two-Bit wears extra-long sideburns. Steve combs his back into complicated swirls. The greasers don't try to look identical to one another, but they can still be picked out of a crowd because their hair defies conventions. With a lack of financial resources, hair is a greaser's primary way of expressing his individuality.

Greaser Girls

According to Ponyboy, greaser girls are 'tough, loud girls who wore too much eye makeup and giggled and swore too much.' Interestingly, Ponyboy understands how important hair is to greaser boys, but seems less forgiving towards greaser girls who attempt to use makeup as a substitute for expensive fashionable styles. He doesn't see elaborate hairstyles as excessive, but he doesn't feel the same way about girls' makeup.

Poverty

The East Side is defined by poverty and all the problems that go with it. Ponyboy states, 'We're poorer than the Socs and the middle class.' By the time a kid living in the East Side reaches his teenage years, he understands that sacrifice is a part of life. In order to survive financially, greasers have to give up a lot. Ponyboy's brother, Darry, has to sacrifice an athletic scholarship and college to take care of his brothers.

Other problems that accompany poverty including substance abuse, domestic violence, and neglect form their daily lives. The group of greasers in the novel bond together to meet each other's needs for love and protection that they can't get anywhere else.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support