The Outsiders is about two weeks in the life of a 14-year-old boy. The novel tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis and his struggles with right and wrong in a society in which he believes that he is an outsider.
Ponyboy and his two brothers — Darrel (Darry), who is 20, and Sodapop, who is 16 — have recently lost their parents in an automobile accident. Pony and Soda are allowed to stay under Darry's guardianship as long as they all behave themselves. The boys are greasers, a class term that refers to the young men on the East Side, the poor side of town. The greasers' rivals are the Socs, short for Socials, who are the "West-side rich kids."
The story opens with Pony walking home alone from a movie; he is stopped by a gang of Socs who proceed to beat him up. The Socs badly injure and threaten to kill Ponyboy; however, some of his gang happen upon the scene and run the Socs off. This incident sets the tone for the rest of the story, because the event tells the reader that a fight between these two groups needs no provocation.
The next night Pony and two other gang members, Dallas Winston (Dally) and Johnny Cade, go to a drive-in movie. There they meet Sherri (Cherry) Valance and her friend Marcia, who have left their Soc boyfriends at the drive-in because the boys were drinking. Dally leaves after giving the girls a hard time, but another greaser, Two-Bit Mathews, joins Pony and Johnny. The boys offer to walk the girls home after the movie, but along the way, the girls' boyfriends reappear and threaten to fight the greasers. Cherry stops the fight from happening, and the girls leave with their boyfriends.
Pony and Johnny go to a vacant lot to hang out before heading home. They fall asleep, and when Johnny wakes Pony up it's 2 a.m. Pony runs home, because the time is way past his curfew, and Darry is waiting up. Darry is furious with Pony and, in the heat of the moment, he hits him. Pony runs out of the house and returns to the lot to find Johnny. Pony...