The Curtis Brothers
The Curtis Boys‘ parents were killed in a car crash. Darry, the oldest, has forgone college to work and to keep the boys together. Sodapop has dropped out of high school to work at the DX, a local garage. Ponyboy is the young daydreamer who the two older brothers work to protect. They are all part of the Greaser gang in Tulsa and live on the “wrong side of the tracks”. Being a Greaser gives them a sense of belonging, and they work together to fight the privileged Socs.
“Pony” is the youngest child of the three Curtis boys and is the youngest of the Greaser gang at age 14. He is the narrator and is not the typical Greaser. Ponyboy enjoys reading and is a good student. However, he tends to daydream and not always use his common sense. This causes tension with Darry. He befriends a Soc, Cherry at the drive-in movies, which later causes more problems with the Soc boys. He and his best friend Johnny run away to Windrixville when Johnny kills a Soc, who attacked the boys in the local park. While in hiding, they save children in a burning church. In the end, he realizes that Darry really does love him, and he writes the story of the Greasers as a theme paper for his teacher at school.
“Soda” is the middle child at age 17. He is very good looking and easy going. However, he drops out of school to work at the DX. Soda tries to ease the tension between Ponyboy and Darry. He doesn’t have book smarts, but he is sensitive enough to know how to help Darry and Pony patch their relationship back together after Darry slaps Ponyboy for coming home late.
“Darry” is the oldest at age 20. He works a construction job and tries to play “father” to his younger brothers. Darry was a football standout in high school and was a good student, but he chooses to take care of the boys after his parent’s death. He struggles in this role. However, his true love for his brothers brings the brothers together in the end. They are allowed to stay together, as ordered by the courts.
The Greasers are a gang of boys who are not quite “hoods,” but they definitely are not angels. These boys have had a hard life growing up and choose looking “tuff” with their greasy hair over becoming the valedictorian. The constant conflict with the Socs, who are the rich and privileged group of teens, runs throughout the novel. However, the Greasers care about each other and try to make the best of their life.
“Johnnycake” is a quiet and sensitive 16-year-old boy whose parents argue, fight and neglect him. The Greasers take care of Johnny. Dally and Johnny have a special bond. Earlier, the Socs “jumped” Johnny. Bob, the leader of the Socs, left scars on his face with his rings. Johnny becomes a hero when he suffers injuries from the burning church in which he, Ponyboy and Dally saved children. In the hospital, Johnny refuses to see his mother and is surrounded by his Greaser gang. He later dies from these injuries.
“Dally” is from New York, where he has been to jail and is 17. He has a more sinister side as compared to the other Greasers. However, he truly loves Johnny and is always loyal to the Greaser gang. When Johnny and Ponyboy need to leave town after the Soc stabbing, he gives them money and directions to a place where they can hide. He even sends the police in the wrong direction when questioned. After Dally recovers from his injuries from the church fire, he loses his sense to live when Johnny dies. He robs a store and is shot by the police after the rumble between the Socs and the Greasers.
“Two-Bit” is always joking around and getting into trouble. He likes to get drunk and to carry a switchblade. However, he rarely uses the blade and likes to shoplift items. He befriends Marcia, who is a Soc and Cherry’s best friend, but he knows that he has no chance with a girl who is a Soc.
Socs of the Outsiders
The Outsiders focuses on the classic conflict of the rich, spoiled teens versus the poor kids from the wrong side of the tracks. The Socs seem to have everything in the beginning of the book. However, the main character, Ponyboy, learns from Cherry that it is truly "rough all over."
The Socs go out looking for Greasers when they are drinking and "jump" unsuspecting members for fun. The Socs (which is not pronounced "socks") is short for Socials. This group is the rich-get-away-with-anything-because-daddy-has-money group at the Tulsa high school. They have beer blasts, drive Mustangs, and wear nice clothes, which include madras shirts.
Bob Sheldon Bob drives a Mustang, wears big rings, drinks heavily and gets away with quite a bit of mischief. His parents are wealthy and for kicks he likes to beat up Greasers. He "jumps" Johnny. Bob is later killed by Johnny when he and his friends are drowning Ponyboy in the fountain in the park. Bob and his group had been drinking.
Sherri "Cherry" Valance Cherry is a cheerleader and is Bob's girlfriend. She meets Ponyboy, who is a Greaser, at the drive-in movie when she and Marcia leave their boyfriends when they drink too much. Cherry and Ponyboy find they have a great deal in common but live in different worlds. Cherry later becomes a spy for the Greasers. She delivers information about the upcoming rumble. However, her love for Bob keeps her from visiting Johnny in the hospital before his death.
Randy Adderson Randy is Bob's friend and is with him when they have run-ins with the Greasers. However, after Ponyboy and Johnny save the children in the fire and Bob's death, Randy realizes that he Ponyboy is a good person. He doesn't want to fight anymore. He comes to the realization that the violence is senseless. He tells Ponyboy this before the rumble and does not take part in the fight.
Marcia – Marcia is Cherry's best friend. She giggles and is a foil to Cherry, who is more serious. She and Two-bit joke around, but her boyfriend is Randy.