The Outsiders Character Analysis & Traits

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  • 0:03 East vs. West
  • 0:25 The Greasers
  • 3:02 The Socs
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

In this lesson, we'll discuss character traits of the Greasers and Socs that bring life to the rivalry between the east side and the west side in the S.E. Hinton novel 'The Outsiders.'

East vs. West

''We're poorer than the Socs and the middle class. I reckon we're wilder, too.''

East side versus west side. Poverty versus wealth. Violence on both sides. The stereotypes of east-side Greasers as low-class criminals and west-side Socs as spoiled-rotten, rich kids with no empathy for others are challenged in the novel The Outsiders as S.E. Hinton develops characters that do not always match their labels.

The Greasers

Dallas Winston is the toughest and meanest of the Greasers. He has crossed the line from Greaser to hoodlum. Dally lies, cheats, steals, and fights. The street gangs of New York were Dally's stomping ground before he moved to Oklahoma. He was arrested for the first time when he was ten years old. He is street smart and always stays calm, cool, and collected. The other boys know that when they are in trouble, he will know what to do. Dally looks for trouble and does not care about anyone, except Johnny.

Ponyboy Curtis is the narrator of the story. At 14 years old, he is the youngest of the Greasers. Ponyboy is part of the group because of his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop. Their parents were killed in an automobile accident and left them to take care of each other. Ponyboy is artistic and smart. He likes sunsets, nature, and the peace of the country. The frustration of living in a city filled with violence and social class division plagues Ponyboy throughout the story.

Johnny Cade is the ''pet'' of the group. He comes from an abusive home and has only felt wanted and loved by his Greaser friends. The combination of abuse at home and violence between the Greasers and the Socs have left him jumpy and ''scared of his own shadow.'' Johnny has a deep admiration for Dally because Dally came from the same type of family but survived by being tough.

Darry Curtis is Ponyboy's oldest brother. He is good-looking, smart, and athletic. He had every opportunity to go to college and make something of himself if his parents had not died and left him to take care of his two younger brothers. He quit school and went to work to keep the family together. Sometimes the pressure of having so much responsibility leads to tension between Darry and Ponyboy. Darry is the unofficial leader of the group.

Sodapop Curtis is the middle brother of Darry and Ponyboy. He is ''movie star handsome'' and easy-going. Sodapop is in love with his girlfriend, Sandy, but she ends up leaving town after getting pregnant with another man's child. Sodapop dropped out of school to work as a mechanic. Ponyboy and Sodapop are very close.

Two-Bit Matthews is the comic relief of the group. Two-Bit's father left the family. His mother went to work as a barmaid to support them. Two-Bit's mother ''lets him get away with murder.'' Two-Bit's prized possession is a switchblade that he shoplifted.

Steve Randle is Sodapop's best friend. They work together at the auto shop. Steve views Ponyboy as a tag-along, little kid.

Tim Shepard is the leader of a rougher gang of Greasers. At times, Dally hangs out with him and fights with him.

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